Federal Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Channel 10 that he thinks there will be a vote this parliament and that it is reasonably likely that “there will be a free vote”, according to the transcript from Channel Ten’s Meet the Press. He gave no indication whether there would be sufficient numbers to pass the bill even if that occurred.
His announcement came just two days after attending at social event organised on behalf of members of the Liberal party that identify as GLBTI, held in Sydney last Friday night.
Turnbull first said “I think there is very likely to be a vote on same-sex marriage in the next Parliament”, indicating that it is likely to be brought on by a private member’s bill.
Turnbull did not indicate whether any bill toward fairness around marriage laws would be successful. “As to what that vote will be, as to whether there would be a majority in favour of same-sex marriage in the House of Representatives and the Senate, I don’t know” suggesting that the new parliament is still unknown to some extent as “the new Parliament hasn’t assembled.”
Appearing to anticipate a question about why a conscience vote wasn’t offered earlier Mr Turnbull added “my own judgement in the last Parliament was if there had been a free vote in the Coalition’s side, there still nonetheless would not have been the numbers to get it passed. But my view, as you know, is that we should have a free vote” and if we do agree to have a free vote, I will vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
Openly gay Liberal Councillor Christine Forster believes it’s more important than ever that senior Liberals like Mr Turnbull speak out in favour of a conscience vote.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that same-sex marriage would be an issue for the new party room, so if and when it comes up, it’s important that as many of those federal party members as possible assert their right to exercise their consciences,” she told the Star Observer.
Minister Turnbull’s comments were heavily shared on Twitter after the ABC’s Simon Cullen quoted Mr Turnbull’s prediction. Mr Turnbull was given the opportunity to clarify whether the transcript of Meet the Press was accurate be he declined to be interviewed.
Echoing Mr Turnbull and Cr Foster’s comments, Australian Marriage Equality have launched a snap campaign to lobby members of the Liberal National Coalition where they are urging contact with their members, asking people to explain their personal reasons as to why a conscience vote should be allowed by the party room, rather than simple ‘clictivism” where respondent’s just push a couple buttons of a mouse. The form can be found here.
This is an updated version of a previous story.