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 doomed.

“[G]iven [Tueday's] decision, the likelihood of failure – should it come to a vote – is assured,” he said.

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.”