Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed Coalition MPs will be given a conscience vote on marriage equality and won’t be bound by the result of the proposed marriage equality plebiscite.
“The tradition in the Liberal Party is that on matters of this kind it is a free vote,” he said.
“I have no doubt that if the plebiscite is carried, as I believe it will be, that you will see an overwhelming majority of MPs and senators voting for it.”
The Coalition has set aside $160 million for the plebiscite – a public vote – and Malcolm Turnbull has signalled his intent for it to take place before the end of the year should the Coalition win the July 2 election.
Coalition MPs Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi have previously indicated they may vote against marriage equality regardless of the plebiscite’s result.
Labor Senator Penny Wong said Malcolm Turnbull “traded his principles for the leadership.”
“Malcolm Turnbull didn’t give supporters of marriage equality a free vote before the election, but will give opponents of marriage equality a free vote after the election,” she tweeted.
Greens Senator Robert Simms said the plebiscite campaign would be “ugly and divisive” and called for it to be scrapped.
“How exactly can the Prime Minister justify spending $160 million on what is in effect a giant opinion poll that isn’t even binding on his own members?” he said.