Federal Election 2016: Election 2016: Turnbull confirms MPs can vote against gay marriage regardless of plebiscite result
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed Coalition MPs will be given a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, regardless of the outcome of a $160-million plebiscite.
The Government is promising to hold a national vote to resolve the issue, possibly before the end of the year, but is yet to outline any details including the timing and question that will be put to voters.
However, the 45th Parliament will be required to pass legislation to hold a plebiscite and then to change the Marriage Act if it returns a yes vote.
Conservative Liberal senators Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz are firmly opposed to gay marriage and have indicated they will vote to maintain the traditional definition of marriage regardless of the outcome.
Mr Turnbull said while MPs would be able to vote with their consciences, he expected voters would support gay marriage and that the Parliament would then vote to legalise it.
"The tradition in the Liberal Party is that on matters of this kind it is a free vote," he said.
"I have no doubt that if the plebiscite is carried as I believe that it will be, that you will see an overwhelming majority of MPs and senators voting for it."
Labor has rubbished the Coalition's proposed plebiscite as a "taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia" and has promised to introduce legislation to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days of being winning government.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Turnbull's comments today proved a plebiscite was pointless.
"Why are we spending $160 million on an opinion poll that the Government is going to ignore?," she asked.
While previous attempts to legalise same-sex marriage have failed, advocates believe legislation would pass once all MPs are given a conscience vote on the issue.
Source: ABC News