Malcolm Turnbull says plebiscite is still the party’s policy

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told reporters that a non-binding plebiscite is still the Liberal party’s policy when it comes to the issue of marriage equality.

“Our policy is clear and we have no plans to change it.” The Prime Minister declared this morning.

Turnbull said the reason marriage equality had not progressed in Australia was becasue Labor leader Bill Shorten had not been supportive of the government’s policy.

“I can understand the disappointment of those who are frustrated that the gay marriage issue has not been resolved but the reason it has not been resolved is because of Bill Shorten,” Turnbull said.

The PM was forced to restate his commitment to the Abbott-era policy after it was reported that one of his closest allies, Defense Industry Minister  Christopher Pyne had suggested that the coalition’s policy might change in the near future.

The government’s legislation for a plebiscite stalled in the senate when it was voted down by Labor and The Greens. Concern had been raised over the unusual mechanism to decide the issue, the cost of the exercise and there was concern about how a potentially vitriolic debate could affect LGBTI people and their families.

News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt has vowed to play leaked audio on his SKY News program this evening which reportedly captures Pyne talking up the possibility of the coalition addressing the issue in the near future.

This morning Pyne has been quick to downplay his comments. Last night a representative issued a statement saying he only meant to suggest that marriage equality would happen sometime in the future, and this morning Pyne tweeted that the government’s policy would not be changing.

“I support marriage equality and if Labor had supported the plebiscite, it would now be a reality. The govt has no plans to alter the policy.”

The comments have highlighted the clear difference of opinion within the coalition over the issue.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who first came up with the proposal for a plebiscite has criticised Pyne.

“We took a policy to the election — it was a very clear policy — that there would be no change without a plebiscite,” Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB this morning.

“To dump the plebiscite, to do anything without a plebiscite, would be a breach of faith with the people.”

Labor’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus says the only thing holding back marriage equality in Australia is the division within the Liberal party.

Dreyfus took to Twitter and suggested that the Defence Minister just be upfront about his support for a policy change.

“Pyne can’t say one thing in private and another in public. If he supports a free vote on marriage equality, say so!”

In a statement released to the media Dreyfus said the Liberal party were playing “pathetic games”.

“Australians are sick of waiting while Liberal MPs play their pathetic games,” Dreyfus said.

“Christopher Pyne lavishes praise on himself behind closed doors, but is as weak as Malcolm Turnbull when it comes to making something happen.”

Dreyfus said Pyne should share his secret plan with the rest of Australia and help move the issue forward.

“The circus within the Liberal party is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are desperately waiting for marriage equality to happen.”

Dreyfus said it was time for Malcolm Turnbull to “grow a spine” and stand up to the right wing of his party.

Australian Christian Lobby says changing policy position would be elitist

The Australian Christian Lobby has warned the government that changing its policy on marriage equality would be seen by voters as being elitist and lacking integrity.

“When it comes to the priorities of political elites, integrity does not seem to matter. It seems Mr Pyne has learned nothing from Trump, Brexit, Hanson and Bernardi.” ACL boss Lyle Shelton said.

The lobby group is the leading voice against marriage equality and transgender rights, and dedicates the majority of its time to fighting marriage equality and programs which aim to stop the bullying of LGBTIQ students.

“With Labor promising to legislate same-sex marriage and fund programs that teach children their gender is fluid, Mr Pyne is now making the Liberal Party unattractive to voters who wish to see marriage and gender norms preserved in public policy,” Shelton said.

“There is an urgent need for Australia’s political leaders to win back the trust of a disillusioned and cynical electorate. Boasting of breaking election promises is not the way to do this,” Shelton said.

OIP Staff

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