AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Faces Spill Over Same-Sex Marriage

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By Politicoscope July 31, 2017 16:11
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Liberal Trevor Evans, has called for the dumping of the Turnbull government’s election commitment to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Faces Spill Over Same-Sex Marriage

Queensland’s first openly gay MP, Liberal Trevor Evans, has called for the dumping of the Turnbull government’s election commitment to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage and for it to immediately resolve the issue in a parliamentary vote. Just a week before federal parliament­ resumes after the extended­ winter break, Mr Evans confirmed yesterday there were several options being planned within Liberal ranks to bring on a vote, possibly within weeks.

The first-term MP, who holds the marginal seat of Brisbane, would also not rule out crossing the floor and supporting a Labor motion to suspend standing orders­ before introducing a bill to change the Marriage Act.

In his first public comments after Labor scuttled the proposed plebiscite in the Senate this year, Mr Evans said a resolution was needed, adding that the Turnbull government’s achievements in cutting red tape, delivering tax cuts for small business and taking on militant unions were not being recognised because of the focus on the same-sex marriage debate.

“There is a still a number of ways to achieve reform,’’ he told The Australian. “But I think the quickest and most likely course now is to allow politicians to have a free vote … and I support that.

“I am talking with colleagues, quite a number of colleagues, about different options that sit in front of us at the moment.’’

The renewed push among Liberals will incite tensions within the partyroom and could threaten the Coalition agreement with the Nationals.

It could also test the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, a declared­ supporter of same-sex marriage, who said this month there would be no vote on gay marriage until there had been a plebiscite. Queensland Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan, who along with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is championing a push for a postal plebiscite on the issue, said politicians had “no right’’ to make a vote on the issue without guidance from a plebis­cite.

“I think in many cases the vote of an MP will not be reflective of the position of their constituency,’’ he said. “Let the people tell us what to do (in a plebiscite).’’

But moderate Liberals are against the proposal for a plebis­cite and Labor is demanding a parliamentary vote. Mr Evans is among Liberals, including gay-rights advocate Warren Entsch and gay MPs Trent Zimmerman and Tim Wilson, rumoured to be willing to give Labor the three Coal­ition votes needed to suspend standing orders and bring the issue to a head.

Labor may then bring on a priv­ate member’s bill being proposed by West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith to legalise same-sex marriage.

Mr Evans would not say whether he was willing to cross the floor but hinted that among the options was a push for the government itself to force a parliam­entary vote.

“I don’t think it is useful to enter­tain all of the hypotheticals on how it might be achieved,’’ he said. “I am not ruling anything out … there is a number of ways that things can be brought onto the floor in order to have a vote.

“One of the greatest ironies is that among the loudest voices in the debate at the moment is Bill Shorten and Penny Wong, who had their chance in government to resolve this.’’

Labor voted down enabling legislation for the Turnbull governme­nt’s plebiscite.

The debate is expected to come to a head at the Liberal party­room meeting on August 8.

Last month, several senior government MPs told The Australian that the Prime Minister’s own position would be “untenable’’ if there was a shift in his party­room away from the plebis­cite policy.

Mr Evans confirmed that possible legislation being considered contained exemptions for religious freedoms modelled on those recommended in a Senate report handed down in February.

The exemptions would allow priests to refuse to solemnise marriages between same-sex couples, although this argument was rejected by the Australian Christian Lobby, which warned they wouldn’t “stand the test of time”.

In an opinion piece for The Australian, Senator Smith said “we can have a conscience vote before the end of this parliamentary year’’.

“Clinging to a plebiscite that has no prospect of passing through parliament will simply allow a future Labor-Greens government to usher in changes to the Marriage Act on its own terms — binding its parliamentarians to legislation that may contain insufficient protections for religious views about marriage,’’ he wrote.

– Australian



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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope July 31, 2017 16:11
Since You’re Here, We Would Like to ask You for Help
There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
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