ADVOCATES have urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to grant the Coalition a conscience vote on marriage equality in order to rebuild his leadership status.
The calls comes in the wake of a failed Coalition party room motion to replace Abbott as PM, and polls indicating his government’s increasing lack of popularity.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said if Abbott gave his party a conscience vote on marriage equality, he could “reconnect with his party and the electorate”.
“It will show he is listening to the electorate and tolerates dissent in his Party,” Croome said.
“It will also show he keeps his promises, given he said before the election that he’ll allow the Liberal Party room to decide on a conscience vote.”
According to Australian Marriage Equality, 72 per cent of Australians support marriage equality but, in the absence of a free vote, Coalition members who support it cannot vote for it.
Meanwhile, Senator David Leyonhjelm has indicated he could block government legislation unless Abbott allowed a conscience vote on his Freedom to Marry bill, which he introduced to Federal Parliament in November.
The Labor party already has a conscience vote on marriage equality, while the Greens have stated they were the “strongest supporters” of it.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek also has a marriage equality bill in the works, but it waiting for a Coalition conscience vote before she introduces it to parliament.
A similar proposal was put forward by former Labor MP Stephen Jones in 2012, but it was voted down by the House of Representatives, 98 to 42.
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