Coalition faces divisions as it stands against gay marriage
A MAJORITY of Coalition MPs and senators last night rejected the prospect of a conscious vote on marriage equality, during a six-hour meeting to discuss the issue.
The meeting, described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as "civil", was called after Queensland Liberal Warren Entsch raised marriage equality in the usual Liberal party room meeting on Tuesday morning in Canberra.
Mr Entsch had co-sponsored a cross-party bill for marriage equality, which Mr Abbott said should instead be discussed in the combined Liberal-National party room meeting.
While a significant minority expressed support for allowing a conscious vote, some two-thirds of the Coalition spoke against the prospect, many on the grounds they had not taken any change to the Coalition's policy to the people at the 2013 election.
Several MPs, including Treasurer Joe Hockey, instead proposed a plebiscite on marriage equality, effectively referring the issue to a possible referendum after the next election, rather than forcing the government to change its policy during this term of government.
The outcome of the meeting has effectively killed off the prospect of a successful vote on marriage equality in federal parliament under an Abbott Government.
Senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said on ABC Radio this morning she believed that the issue would be a deciding factor for many voters at the next election, citing Labor leader Bill Shorten's commitment to introduce a marriage equality within 100 days of taking office, should he be elected Prime Minister.