An Australian bill which would allow
gay and lesbian couples to marry appears to be doomed before it has
been formally introduced.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday
announced the results of a 6-hour meeting to discuss whether
government MPs would have a free vote on the marriage reform. Abbott
told reporters that the Coalition will continue to oppose marriage
equality for the remainder of this term.
“It was roughly 60:30,” Abbott
said. “Sixty supporting the existing position, 30 saying there
should be a free vote.”
“Now, of the 30 that said that there
should be a free vote, quite a number, half a dozen maybe, said that
if there was a free vote, they would still support the existing
position,” he added.
But Abbott added that the Coalition's
position was likely to change in the next term.
“I've come to the view, I believe
this is the party room view, that this is the last term in which the
Coalition party room can be bound, although we will definitely
maintain the current position for the life of this term,” he said.
“Going into the next election, we will finalize another position.”
“The disposition of the party room
this evening is that our position into the next election should be
that in a subsequent term of parliament, this is a matter that should
rightly be put to the Australian people.”
LNP MP Warren Entsch said that he would
introduce his bill on Monday, but conceded that it appeared to be
“[G]iven [Tueday's] decision, the
likelihood of failure – should it come to a vote – is assured,”
Some Liberals criticized Abbott's
decision to include Nationals – who are more deeply opposed to
marriage equality – in Tuesday's debate.
In speaking to reporters, Abbott said
of the decision to put the question to the joint party room: “There's
no easy answer here. It doesn't matter what we did today, some
people would have been disappointed.”