Mathias Cormann denies PM under threat over marriage equality

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has dismissed reports suggesting there is a plan to replace Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull if a backbench plan to force a vote on marriage equality is successful.

News Corp have reported that there is a plan to replace Malcolm Turnbull and deputy Julie Bishop with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Yesterday Queensland MP Trevor Evans indicated that he was prepared to ‘cross the floor’ and vote with the Labor party to bring on a vote on a private members bill for marriage equality. Victorian MP Tim Wilson also indicated he’d be prepared to support a Liberal party created bill for marriage quality.

Longtime marriage equality supporter Warren Enstch and Victorian MP Jason Wood have also voiced their support for a free vote if a bill made it to the floor of the parliament.

Western Australian Senator Dean Smith has confirmed that he is working on the a private members bill for marriage equality that he’ll present to his Liberal party colleagues when parliament returns from its winter recess.

Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said backbench MPs were free to ‘cross the floor’ if there was an issue they felt required them to vote with their conscience.

“In our party, backbenchers have always had the right to cross the floor,” the PM responded.

“In the Labor party, you get expelled for doing that. It’s always been a fundamental principle in the Liberal party and indeed, the National party. So it’s a very different political culture to the very authoritarian Labor party.”

While many conservatives saw the Prime Minister’s statement saw the Prime Minister’s statement as a ‘green light’ to the MPs who support a free vote in parliament, Mathias Cormann said the Prime Minister was simply making a “statement of fact”.

“Obviously we do have a great tradition in the Liberal Party where backbenchers are able to cross the floor on the specific issues if that is what they choose to do,” Senator Cormann told ABC radio this morning.

Senator Cormann said it was difficult to comment on the anonymous quotes in the News Corp article, but argued that the Prime Minister still had overwhelming support.

“What I would say is that the Prime Minister enjoys the strong and united and unanimous support of this government and I believe he enjoys the overwhelming support of our party room, so I really don’t know who has made those comments,” he said.

Senator Cormann said the party remained committed to its plan to hold a plebiscite on the issue.

OIP Staff

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