News Election 2016 Shorten backflips on gay vote, Ministers fudge it
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Shorten backflips on gay vote, Ministers fudge it

Bill Shorten with Tania Plibersek (l) and Penny Wong (r) at Parliament House in Canberra.
Tanya Plibersek with former leader Bill Shorten and Penny Wong. Photo: AAP
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Bill Shorten has been exposed as having backflipped on the same-sex marriage issue, telling a Christian group in the final days of the 2013 election campaign that he was “completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite” on same-sex marriage.

The Australian has reported and produced video footage ­of Mr Shorten addressing the Australian Christian Lobby in his Maribyrnong that he preferred “the Australian people make their view known” to the 150 MPs in federal parliament.

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“Personally speaking, I’m completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite,’’ he said. “I’d be wary of trying to use a referendum and a constitutional mechanism to start tampering with the Marriage Act.

“But in terms of a plebiscite — I would rather the people of Aust­ralia could make their view clear on this than leaving this issue to 150 people,” the video in The Australian shows.

The footage is in stark contrast to Mr Shorten’s language during the election campaign that a plebiscite would unleash homophobia and hate speech and has instead promised to introduce same-sex marriage legislation into Parliament in the first 100 days of a Labor government.

But Mr Shorten told the Nine network he had had a change of heart.

“Community attitudes have moved on and most Australians are confused why we are arguing about the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, two senior Government frontbenchers have refused to say whether they would back same-sex marriage in Parliament if a plebiscite on the issue was carried.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop completely dodged the question on how they would vote in Parliament after a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

In an interview on 7.30, which also focused on the Coalition’s costings ahead of the election, Mr Morrison was repeatedly asked how he would vote on if his own electorate supported changing the Marriage Act.

Scott Morrison is interviewed by Leigh Sales. Photo: ABC.
Scott Morrison is interviewed by Leigh Sales. Photo: ABC.

But Mr Morrison, who regularly speaks publicly about his Christian faith, would not be drawn in the interview with Leigh Sales as follows:

Sales: Why can’t you answer it clearly — will you vote for same-sex marriage?

Mr Morrison: I will use my words, you use yours and you’re not allowed to put words in my mouth.

Sales: I think if that answer doesn’t make it clear, I want clarity for my audience; will you vote for same-sex marriage?

Mr Morrison: I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite. If it passes then the legislation will pass.

Sales: With your vote?

Mr Morrison: I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite.

Sales: I’m not sure why you can’t answer if it will be with your vote.

In an interview on Lateline, Ms Bishop was asked how she would vote in Parliament, if the majority of Australians supported marriage equality in the plebiscite but her electorate voted against it.

But Ms Bishop would not be drawn on Lateline on Tuesday night, saying she would wait until she saw the legislation.

“I always have a look at what the legislation says and I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite,” she told interviewer Emma Alberici.

Coalition MPs have been told they will be given a free vote in Parliament, regardless of the result of the plebiscite which in non-binding and still needs to be passed through Parliament.

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