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Bernardi says gay marriage vote must be delayed

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Conservative backbencher Cory Bernardi has appeared to call on his party to delay its promised gay marriage plebiscite.

Senator Bernardi told The Guardian on Sunday that the close election result should give politicians and voters cause to re-examine whether the vote was a ‘real priority’.

“The election result would give everybody cause to take a deep breath and determine what our real priorities are,” he said.

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“I’m saddened it’s come to this but I’ve tried to make clear the consequences of abandoning our core philosophy in favour of self interest.”

The Senator, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, said the plebiscite should not be dumped, but that it should be delayed to prove to the electorate that the government was not preoccupied with “fringe issues”, The Guardian reported.

The AAP newswire reported earlier on Sunday that the issue of gay marriage could be one of the casualties of a hung parliament.

One scenario is that a minority Turnbull government is returned. Mr Turnbull might then allow a conscience vote on the legislation necessary to trigger a plebiscite.

Labor and the Greens are opposed to the plebiscite, fearing it might incite hatred towards gay Australians. Their lower house MPs might join with anti-gay marriage LNP members to block the enabling legislation.

Mr Turnbull has repeatedly promised that a gay marriage plebiscite will be held before the end of 2016.

After the murky Saturday result, Senator Bernardi took to Twitter to emphasise the importance of conservatives in the LNP.

“Hey Tex,” the Senator wrote to the account of Liberal pollster Mark Textor, “I’m thinking that Conservatives actually do matter.”

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