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Confusion over Barnett conscience vote
Gay marriage advocates have called on the Western Australian Liberal Party to clarify its position on marriage equality and for WA Premier Colin Barnett to make clear whether he’d support a conscience vote on the issue.
The call follows mixed messages last week about the premier’s stance after Maylands Liberal state election candidate Sylvan Albert stated in an email that Barnett will allow a conscience vote for Liberal members if the issue arises in state Parliament.
In response to an inquiry from the Star Observer about the premier’s position last week, a spokeswoman for Barnett said he has not made a commitment on a conscience vote and gay marriage.
“In the past when he has been asked, he has said he has no comment to make until he sees a proposed bill,” the spokeswoman said.
A quote provided said that while he doesn’t personally support gay marriage, Barnett would stand up against discrimination against gay people.
“I do acknowledge probably more people in the community are now becoming supportive of gay marriage. There is a changing mood in the community,” he said.
Australian Marriage Equality WA convenor and Maylands resident Brian Greig said the mixed messages were confusing and concerning.
“I find it passing strange that a carefully crafted email from Mr Albert on this topic in answer to my questions, which had clearly been vetted by Liberal party campaign headquarters, is now being denied by the premier,” Greig said.
Greig said it was misleading for Albert to be telling voters in seat of Maylands, an area he says has a high proportion of same-sex couples, that the premier will allow a free vote on marriage equality if this isn’t true.
“Voters who care about this issue will be wondering if this policy confusion is accidental or deliberate,” Greig said.
In December 2010, a Westpoll conducted in WA found 61 per cent in support of same-sex marriage.