Australians awoke to a new prime minister today – the fifth in five years but what will that mean for marriage equality in Australia?
Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott for the top job 54-44 in a party room ballot overnight.
He will become our 29th prime minister.
Julie Bishop was re-elected as deputy Liberal leader, defeating Kevin Andrews 70 votes to 30.
Mr Turnbull was elected to the Sydney eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth in 2004 after a decorated business and legal career.
He was elected as Liberal leader while in opposition in September 2008 but was ousted by Mr Abbott in December 2009.
Mr Turnbull hosed down speculation that he would call a snap election and said “his assumption” was that the Parliament would serve its full term.
Some of his colleagues are wary of Mr Turnbull’s return for his stance on climate change policy and support of same-sex marriage. Malcolm Turnbull’s is in a usually marginal electorate in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs with a very high number of LGBTI voters and yet he will need to maintain unity in the LNP coalition to maintain his role as Prime Minister, so the months ahead will be very challenging for him and very interesting to see how Marriage Equality will be treated.
Turnbull has long been a supporter of a free vote in the parliament in regards to same-sex marriage, however, given that his party recently voted amongst themselves and clearly expressed that the party preferred a national plebiscite, it appears unlikely that Turnbull would act against his party’s wishes. On the night of his election to the top job, Turnbull repeatedly stated that his government would be a truly liberal and consensus led government. For him to then go against his party’s wishes would smack of hypocrisy and be extremely damaging for his fledgling leadership.
The more likely outcome would be that Turnbull continues with the plan for a national plebiscite, however, unlike Tony Abbot who simply offered a commitment for a national vote sometime in the next term of parliament, Turnbull will be under pressure to either hold the plebiscite at some point in this term of parliament, or even at the next federal election.
Mr Turnbull’s rise to the prime ministership means that for the first time in Australia’s history that both of the major parties have a leader who supports marriage equality.
Mr Abbott served as prime minister for 1 year, 361 days – less time than recent Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and the shortest period in the top job since Harold Holt.
Holt served for only 22 months before he disappeared in December 1967 while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea in Victoria.