News National Eric Abetz may ‘vote down’ plebiscite

Eric Abetz may ‘vote down’ plebiscite

The party must now listen to backbenchers. Photo: AAP.
The party must now listen to backbenchers. Photo: AAP.
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The Coalition is yet again divided on same-sex marriage, with Liberal Senator Eric Abetz saying he could vote down a potential national plebiscite supported by the Australian public.

The conservative dumped cabinet minister insisted that coalition MPs would not be bound by any plebiscite on gay marriage, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

“I would need to determine whether [the plebiscite] really is an accurate reflection, whether it is all above board or whether the question is stacked, whether all sides received public funding,” said.

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“But everyone knows my view is very strongly that a marriage between a man and a woman is the foundational institution for socialising the next generation. And every member of parliament will make up his or her mind after the plebiscite is held.

“People will take into account the views of the electorate, the views of the nation and their own personal views.

“It would be up to each member to decide whether the plebiscite accurately reflects the views of the Australian people, whether it reflects the views of their electorates and whether it is good or bad public policy in their view.

“There will be people in the Parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.”

Liberal National MP Warren Entsch criticised Mr Abetz’s stance as “bizarre” and “extraordinary”.

“Given he was part of the decision-making process [on a plebiscite], I find it rather extraordinary,” Mr Entsch told Fairfax Media.

“It makes you wonder why we would spend millions of dollars on a plebiscite if you’re not going to respect the result. I find it rather bizarre.

“If people make a decision either way we should respect that.

“It will be a very brave individual – either in the House of Representatives or the Senate – who seeks to challenge the views of the Australian people.”

Government frontbencher Steve Ciobo said Mr Abetz was entitled to his view but insisted it would be “passing strange” for any politician to ignore the wishes of the Australian people.

“Any politician, any member of parliament, would really have to think twice before they snub their nose at the view of a majority of Australians,” he told Sky News.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had decided there should be a national vote on whether to legalise gay marriage after the next election.

Former PM and Mr Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abbott, proposed a plebiscite in 2015 after a long debate about a conscience vote which divided the Coalition.

– with AAP

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