The marriage equality debate in Australia has taken a dramatic turn tonight following a marathon six hour Coalition party room debate around whether a “free-vote” would be allowed on the issue in Parliament. The room voted two-thirds against the proposal which means all Coalition MP’s must vote along party lines and against any same-sex marriage bill.
Following the party room breaking up the Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke to the media and said he was proud of his colleagues for the way they discussed the issue in the meeting.
“This was a serious issue that needed to be dealt with seriously,” he stated.
“It is deeply personal, very deeply personal.”
“As a result of the discussion in the party room… I’ve come to the view that this is the last term in which a coalition party room can be bound, although we will maintain this current position for the life of the term. Going into the next election we will finalise another position.”
“This is a matter that should be rightly put to the Australian people.”
A cross-party bill will be introduced into the Australian Parliament on Monday, with the Labor Party already allowed a free-vote on the issue.
Co-sponsor of the bill, the Liberal Party’s Warren Entsch, pushed for the ‘free-vote’ to be debate in the party room today and as the issue gained momentum the Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared they spend most of the afternoon and into the evening to debate the issue in an effort to clear the decks for the bill to be debated next week.
The drama unfolded in front of waiting media and a mysterious rainbow that appeared on the outside wall of the party room as members were started to gather.
During the spirited debate, backbench MP’s were allowed to speak first, up to 4 minutes at times. It was then handed over to Ministers at around 7.30pm. To say the issue has certainly been given a chance is an understatement, and remember it was just a decision as to whether they allow a ‘free-vote’ or not on an issue that is yet to enter parliament.
At around 8.45pm, Sky News journalist Laura Jayes reported that National Party MP Darren Chester was the only one from his party to speak for the free vote and expressed the intention to vote yes when the vote reached parliament.
“It’s an historic night which could have both negative or positive consequences,” Chester told the party room.
He also suggested that the Prime Minister, “recognise the opportunity to be a statesman and demonstrate great leadership.”
Last Updated on Aug 12, 2015