Same-sex marriage tensions within the Turnbull Govenment are boiling over today after senior government members announced that they would not vote to pass legislation for marriage equality even if the Australian public vote for change at a proposed plebiscite
Senator Cory Bernardi has said this morning that he would not vote in favour of change to the Marriage Act regardless of the outcome, while Liberal senate colleague Eric Abetz has warned that he and others in the party may not recognise the validity of a plebiscite result that saw Australians vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
Speaking with the Guardian Australia, Senator Abetz said the result alone would not be the only factor that would determine how he would vote.
“I would need to determine whether (the plebiscite) really is an accurate reflection, whether it is all above board or whether the question is stacked, whether all sides received public funding,” Abetz said.
Senator Bernardi was even more forthright in his comments to Fairfax Media.
“Even if the public voted for [same-sex marriage] I wouldn’t vote for it,” Bernardi said.
“It goes against what I believe in. This is a substantial issue and in the annals of public policy, you want to be on the record about your views.”
Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch slammed Senator Abetz’s comments saying that all party members should respect the Australian people and what they decide.
“Given he [Senator Abetz] was part of the decision-making process [on a plebiscite] I find it rather extraordinary,” Mr Entsch told Fairfax Media.
“It makes you wonder why we would spend millions of dollars on a plebiscite if you’re not going to respect the result. I find it rather bizarre. If people make a decision either way we should respect that.”
The comments of Abetz and Bernardi also fly in the face of Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull’s October 2015 promise that his party would respect the result of a plebiscite.
“When the Australian people make their decision, that decision will stick,” the prime minister said. “It will be decisive. It will be respected by this government and by this parliament and this nation.
“But let me tell you this. If you imagine that any government, this government or any government, would spend over $150m consulting every Australian on an issue of this kind and then ignore their decision, then they really are not living in the real world.”