Malcolm Turnbull dodges marriage equality questions in Perth

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been ambushed with questions on marriage equality this morning, while attempting to speak about the government’s PaTH employment program.

Appearing with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, Turnbull’s media call was dominated by questions on the news that a number of Coalition MPs are planning to cross the floor to deliver marriage equality when parliament resumes next week.

Opening the floor to questions about employment, the PM was immediately asked if this week’s marriage equality revelations are being seen as a test of his authority over the party room.

“Our government’s policy on this issue is very very clear and has not changed,” the Prime Minister said.

“We went to the last election promising the Australian people would have their direct say on this issue.”

Turnbull reasserted his government’s plebiscite policy on marriage equality, saying the Australian Labor Party are to blame for the delay.

“The only reason that plebiscite or vote has not been held – the only reason every Australian has not been given the opportunity to vote on this – is because of Bill Shorten’s opposition,” Turnbull continued.

“The plebiscite would have been held long ago, by now, if it had not been for Labor’s totally political opposition. They have no interest in marriage equality or same-sex marriage at all. Their only interest is in the politics. We made a commitment to give every Australian a say on this issue. That is our policy it has not changed.”

The PM said during his last week in Western Australia, just one of the ‘hundreds’ of people he has met have raised the issue of same-sex marriage.

“This is an issue of enormous interest to journalists, I think Western Australians and Australians generally are focused on jobs, on employment, on economic growth and investment. They’re focused on the issues my government are focused on – which is ensuring we deliver the strong economic growth and opportunities  for young people to get ahead and get a job… for example with this PaTH program.”

The Prime Minister chastised journalists for continuing to ask about marriage equality, trying to steer the conversation back to employment.

“Your interest in this matter… I understand it. It is not our priority to be focused on or discussing internal Liberal Party or Coalition matters here. Our policy is very very clear, we have established policies within our party room which everyone is very familiar with.

“The question you should be asking, if you care to take the time, is of Bill Shorten, and say to him, why has he gone back on his commitment? He gave a commitment to the Australian Christian Lobby only a few years ago, in which he favoured giving every Australian a say on this issue.”

When asked directly about a proposed postal plebiscite, the Prime Minister moved along to another question.

The Liberals are expected to discuss this in their party room next week as parliament resumes.

OIP Staff

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