The Age editorial writes: “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (is creating) a mechanism to finally end the impasse on marriage equality. A number of the politicians are expected to push for a free vote, which is the most sensible option….. The issue has been manipulated by Mr Abbott in his campaign to undermine Mr Turnbull’s leadership. Mr Abbott is on shaky ground – he is unpopular in his party and in the wider community.”
Polls have consistently shown as many as 7 in 10 Australians want marriage equality.
Yet Conservative MPs in the Coalition continue to call for the Australian people to be able “to have their say” through various forms, a non-binding plebiscite or a similarly non-binding postal vote.
Calls for these forms of mass decision-making are simply stalling tactics by Conservative Christian MPs like Eric Abetz.
All this is transparent nonsense. If there is an overwhelmingly “Yes” vote, Abbott and his fellow travellers will simply ignore it, if there is a small minority “No” vote, they will claim a huge victory and justification for their stance.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull keeps arguing that the Coalition took the idea of a vote on marriage equality to the last election and that this promise should be honoured.
It’s a difficult argument to mount. The Coalition won a majority in the House of Representatives where a vote for a referendum was duly passed. But it did not win a majority in the Senate, where the vote was lost. This should have put the matter of a referendum to rest. And the substantive matter should have been put to vote in the Parliament.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Malcolm Turnbull is going to call out the right wing of his party and allow a conscience vote. Perhaps even he will cross the floor.
That would be brave.
It is probably time for a showdown with Tony Abbott. Malcolm really has nothing to lose and he probably won’t.