LIBERAL backbenchers have been discussing ways to hold a parliamentary vote on marriage equality before the next election, a recent report has revealed.
According to the Herald Sun, there are talks among Liberals to resolve the issue next year as a means to avoid having the debate dominate the next federal election.
“You might find that the independents will come up with a solution,” one Liberal MP said.
The idea is being pushed in part because it would allow the Coalition to include religious exemptions in the bill, to avoid Labor introducing far less protections for religious organisations.
However, a senior Government source told the Herald Sun that this move was unlikely as the matter would be instead dealt with exclusively by the Liberal party room.
“This time the Nationals won’t be in there,” the MP said.
However, any attempt to put the issue back on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s agenda would need to be driven by the backbench.
If a vote or bill were to be introduced it would require the government to revisit the issue for the first time since Turnbull’s plebiscite-enabling legislation was blocked in the Senate earlier this month.
While some backbenchers have expressed their desire to get marriage equality out of the way before the next election, others haven’t been as supportive.
Victorian Nationals MP Andrew Broad said he would withdraw support from Turnbull if it were to allow a free vote in parliament.
“The government that I am a part of and will remain a part of is conditional on the fact that the only way there will be a change to the Marriage Act in this parliament is a plebiscite,” he said last month.
The Australian Greens have welcomes reports of a renewed discussion in the Liberal party about a way forward to achieve marriage equality.
Senator Janet Rice said the Greens have reiterated their call on Turnbull to grant his MPs a free vote so the parliament can do its job.
“We look forward to working with the Coalition, Labor, and crossbench MPs to progress legislation that removes barriers to equality,” she said.
Over ninety LGBTI leaders and groups recently called on the government to hold a free vote in parliament.