AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Under Siege From Liberal Party

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By Politicoscope August 3, 2017 19:45

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“If we get the chance to vote up marriage equality and have a vote on it in the parliament, a fair dinkum vote, we are absolutely up for that but it doesn’t have to be me or someone senior in Labor who moves the bill. Let’s make it cross-party. Let’s just get it done,” Bill Shorten said.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Under Siege From Liberal Party

Malcolm Turnbull is facing more fire from inside his party on the gay marriage bill — now Bill Shorten has indicated how Labor want it to play out. In an interview with ABC 30, Mr Shorten said they could help suspend standing orders in parliament so a private member’s bill could be brought on.

“If we get the chance to vote up marriage equality and have a vote on it in the parliament, a fair dinkum vote, we are absolutely up for that but it doesn’t have to be me or someone senior in Labor who moves the bill. Let’s make it cross-party. Let’s just get it done,” Bill Shorten said.

“I think a lot of Australians are genuinely getting peeved off we are not just voting on it. We go to parliament every week. We vote on the most amazing minutiae. This is a big issue. We have made 20 amendments since the Marriage Act was introduced. Why now are we making gay people have to jump through an extra law-making hoop of a plebiscite when we have never asked anyone else to do it when we amended the Marriage Act?”

When asked if he knew how many Labor MPs would vote against it, he the “vast majority” were behind it, and only a “very small number” of MPs would not back the push for marriage equality.

His comments come as Mr Turnbull poured cold water on the idea of the Liberal Party going it alone in legislating for same-sex marriage.
However the party’s MPs will meet separately in what is being dubbed as an emergency meeting to discuss the issue on Monday, ahead of a joint party room meeting on Tuesday.

Warren Entsch – one of the Liberal MPs pushing for a vote in parliament rather than a national plebiscite – says it’s vital Liberals are able to make a decision even if it runs contrary to that of their coalition partners.

Mr Entsch argues Liberal members were “ambushed” when former prime minister Tony Abbott brought the Nationals to a meeting on the issue in 2015, after which the coalition parties got behind the plebiscite as an election promise.

Asked about the issue in Perth on Thursday, Mr Turnbull told reporters: “Any issue can be discussed in the Liberal party room and the joint partyroom … but of course coalition policy is ultimately determined in the coalition partyroom.” West Australian senator Dean Smith is working on a marriage equality bill and Mr Entsch is among lower house colleagues including Trevor Evans and Tim Wilson who have flagged support for it.

Mr Entsch says the plebiscite was a “captain’s pick” by Mr Abbott and has become impossible to sell because some MPs say they won’t accept the result. “Instead of being ambushed and deceived, I trust this prime minister to do the right thing and give us an opportunity to have a fair hearing on this,” Mr Entsch told Sky News.

He said the Nationals would be free to disagree with the Liberal position and vote against it.

Mr Entsch also lashed out at what he says are “veiled threats and intimidation” after Queensland’s Liberal National Party president Gary Spence wrote to members expressing disappointment that some were defying party policy. He goaded Mr Spence to have him disendorsed, calling on him to “bring it on”. The formal notification for Monday’s Liberal meeting did not declare the agenda to solely be about same-sex marriage but one MP told AAP that “should go without saying”.

Federal Nationals MPs, many of whom are angry the marriage debate is detracting from other issues, will meet in Rockhampton on Friday instead of next week in Canberra when parliament resumes.

MP’S AWKWARD INTERVIEW
PRO same-sex marriage Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson has been caught up in a very awkward interview on the controversial subject with Sky News’ Peter van Onselen.

Mr van Onselen welcomed Mr Wilson to his program on Sky News and began by asking the Member for Goldsten in Victoria what he thought of speculation Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will hold a secret party room ballot on gay marriage.

Mr Wilson, who has previously expressed his support for same-sex marriage, wanted nothing to do with the issue.

“Thanks Peter I have said everything I have to say (on the issue) and have no plans to make any other comment,” Mr Wilson replied.

“I would prefer to talk about something else that actually matters to the Australian population like the economy, energy prices or what is going on with Labor’s tax slug.

“You pick it I’m happy to talk about it but I have said what I have to say on this issue.”

And Mr van Onselen was having none of that.

“Tim Wilson thanks for your company,” he said.

“That’s alright, pleasure,” Mr Wilson replied.

And that was the end of that. The whole interview lasted no longer than 25 seconds.

Mr van Onselen’s question was in regard to reports in The Australian Mr Turnbull will use a secret ballot to canvas the opinions of his party room on marriage reform.

Mr Turnbull may use a ballot of MPs at next week’s party room meeting to find out where the majority stand, and to stop infighting over the issue that threatens his leadership, The Australian reports.

According to the report, Mr Turnbull has been advised reform advocates only have 20 per cent of the Coalition partyroom with them. As a result a convincing vote for the existing policy could deter some of them crossing the floor and damaging the Coalition.

The vote could be used to deter moderates from crossing the floor of the lower house in support of same-sex marriage, with the prime minister told just one in five MPs support the reform advocates.

The Australian also revealed in 1997, as chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, Mr Turnbull wrote an article for the publication in which he was highly critical of a postal plebiscite saying the idea “flew in the face of Australian democratic values”.

ABBOTT’S STERN WARNING
It comes as former prime minister Tony Abbott issued a stern warning that Liberal MPs crossing the floor would be engaging in a “serious attack” on Mr Turnbull’s authority.

West Australian Senator Dean Smith is working on a marriage equality bill while his lower house colleagues Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson and Warren Entsch have flagged crossing the floor to support it.

With the bill to enable a plebiscite failing to pass parliament last year, some Liberals want the bill recommitted to parliament, while others say a voluntary postal ballot could achieve the same aim without the need for legislation.

Mr Abbott said the coalition should take its existing policy of a plebiscite to the next election and stand by it now.

MPs pushing for marriage equality argue they have discharged their duty to support a plebiscite and it’s not their fault the Senate blocked the legislation.

But Minister Zed Seselja said that argument was nonsense, pointing to the government’s persistence over workplace relations laws. The Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy claimed same-sex marriage was not a major issue for the Government.

“It is not being raised when I talk to other colleagues so I to be brutally honest think it is a media beat up,” he told Sky News.

‘GONE BY CHRISTMAS’: CREDLIN’S WARNING
Mr Wilson’s bizarre interview came after Peta Credlin issued a dire warning for Mr Turnbull as the Prime Minister’s strategy for dealing with same-sex marriage when parliament resumes was revealed.

Tony Abbott’s ex chief of staff Ms Credlin has told Sky News Mr Turbull needs to use the “safety valve” of a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

However she said it won’t simply be the issue of marriage equality that would bring down Mr Turnbull.

Instead it will also be the Finkel review of Australia’s energy market.

“I don’t think that Malcolm Turnbull will be here at the end of the year, but I suspect it won’t be just this issue (of same-sex marriage) that brings him down,” Ms Credlin told Sky News.

“I think the response to Finkel which will be due by Christmas as well, the combination of these two matters will significantly weaken his leadership to the point that he is untenable.”

Ms Credlin was asked if Mr Turnbull would have to resign or be “blasted out”.

“Either, or” she replied.

“It’s interesting that the postal vote matter is the one that’s pushed forward very much by the conservatives: Mathias Cormann and in particular Peter Dutton, and but for those two men Malcolm Turnbull would not be Prime Minister. They very much hold him in that seat,” she said.

“You can see when there’s any issue it’s not Julie Bishop or Scott Morrison or indeed Christopher Pyne who go out there now to defend Turnbull, it’s very much the two senior conservatives, Senator Cormann and Minister Dutton who are out there defending him.

“If they were to withdraw their support, I don’t think Malcolm Turnbull is prime minister.”

Ms Credlin advised Mr Turnbull to push for a postal vote.

“I think if the Prime Minister was canny, he would go to cabinet on Monday with a proposal for a postal vote, he would announce that immediately as cabinet broke on the Monday night, and he would use that to push into party room on Tuesday, because the party room will happen before parliament opens again on Tuesday afternoon,” she said.

“He would then be able to hold his people and say, look, whatever games Labor might play, we will have a postal vote, we’ll have it before Christmas and these are the conditions.”

Credlin’s warming came as Sky News reported today that National Party MPs are concerned Victorian MP Andrew Broad could leave the Coalition and sit on the crossbench over same-sex marriage.

Mr Broad offered “no comment” when asked about the issue by Sky News.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters on Thursday the Liberal Party was getting itself “tied up in a knot” over the issue.

“I actually think it’s a bit weird how hard some conservative Liberals are fighting against marriage equality,” he told reporters.

“Why are they so obsessed about other people’s relationships?”

“Marriage equality should have a vote in parliament at the very least. We should just have a vote an get on with it.”

SECRET BALLOT
AUSTRALIA’S deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says he wouldn’t punish government MPs for crossing the floor of the lower house in favour of gay marriage.

Mr Joyce said Liberal and National MPs have the right to vote against party lines, and the coalition doesn’t subscribe to the same “totalitarian process” as the opposition.

“I’d be the last person to criticise someone for crossing floor — in the Labor party they kick you out,” the Nationals leader told ABC radio.

“We don’t believe in that… if you’ve got a different view and you can support a potent argument, then that’s your right.”

NSW MPS LETTER TO FEDERAL COLLEAGUES
Five NSW MPs representing the Nationals, the Liberals the ALP, the Greens and an Independent have written an open letter to the Canberra, urging their federal colleagues to move on the issue of same sex marriage.

Trevor Khan Bruce Notley-Smith, Penny Sharpe, Jenny Leong and Alex Greenwich penned the letter.

“We are concerned about proposals for any form of plebiscite,” it read.

“We fear these proposals risk damaging the public’s trust in Australia’s federal parliament, as it sends the message that the Parliament is too weak to deal with matters that fall within its sole responsibility.

Our nation faces many great challenges and is open to many wonderful opportunities; however it is clear the passionate support for marriage equality will only continue to dominate the public and political discourse until it is resolved through a parliamentary vote. We urge you to work together towards delivering marriage equality through a vote in Parliament, a reform that will make our nation proud, and truly deliver on our shared values of fairness and equality.”

– News


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By Politicoscope August 3, 2017 19:45

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