The Coalition should stop making excuses on marriage equality and debate the cross-party bill in their party room, according to the bill’s seconder, Labor MP Terri Butler.
“When Labor tabled our bill in May, Mr Abbott said ‘If our parliament were to make a big decision on a matter such as this, it ought to be owned by the parliament and not by any particular party’,” Terri Butler said.
“And the Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, made the same point, adding that the bill should be moved by a member of one party and seconded by another.
“Those boxes have been ticked. This is a bipartisan bill that also has crossbencher support. There’s a mover from one party – the party of government, for that matter – and a seconder from another.
“In May, Mr Abbott said marriage equality would only be put on the agenda after the small business package was passed. Again, that box has been ticked.
“And at the time Mr Abbott promised his MPs they would be given a ‘very full, frank and candid and decent’ debate about the issue in the party room.
“All of the hurdles have been jumped. Mr Abbott should now make good on his commitment..
“In the last two days Liberals have made all sorts of new excuses. One claimed this was an ambush, even though the work towards an orderly bipartisan arrangement had been reported earlier this year. One drew a spurious connection between marriage equality and polyamory. Another claimed we shouldn’t have marriage equality because Asian countries don’t have it. And another claimed, insultingly, that this issue is a ‘distraction’.
“The Coalition should stop making excuses. The party room should consider the bill, and Mr Abbott should allow his Members and Senators a free vote.
“The best time to remove discrimination in marriage was already. The second best time is as soon as possible. Let’s get it done,” Terri Butler said.