Liberal MP Warren Entsch has called out the way the marriage equality debate has unfolded in Australia, advising colleagues of his that have condemned his advocacy for a free vote to “have the balls to actually put their names to it”, the Brisbane Times has reported.

Recent reports have suggested that four Liberal MPs including Entsch, Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson, and Trent Zimmerman may cross the floor on the issue when it comes to a head in parliament, in light of a private members’ bill that has been drafted by Liberal Senator Dean Smith and will likely be introduced this month.

The news has prompted many conservative MPs to anonymously suggest that by crossing the floor the four men could face pre-selection challenges.

Entsch said he’d read about the threats from the Prime Minister that had come from anonymous sources.

They haven’t got the balls to actually put their names to it,” he said.

“And in all fairness and accuracy, the Prime Minister has not called me. Not at all. His office hasn’t called up.

“And if they had the balls like we had, to stand up and state our position and be accountable of it – then it goes to the level of individual that they are.”

Entsch added that the best way to handle the issue is to have a free vote.

“All I am asking for is to have a bloody vote,” he said.

“Many of my colleagues have asked for that and I have accommodated, or facilitated their right to have a vote, even though I might have voted on the other side, I gave them the opportunity to have a vote out of respect.

“I’m not asking them to change their vote, I am not asking them – they can abstain. I am just asking to have a vote and I think whatever the outcome of that vote I am more than happy to abide by that decision.”

Read our rundown on how marriage equality could be achieved in Australia within weeks.

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