Friday, 1 May 2015

Now I've heard everything! Liberal MP blames Labor for his own party's continuing refusal to support same-sex marriage

Just when I thought the Liberal Party of Australia couldn’t possibly take its lack of responsibility for its own political actions to an even more bizarre level, The Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April 2015 published a bizarre claim by one Liberal MP that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to allow members of the parliamentary Liberal Party a conscience vote on any bill relating to same-sex marriage is actually all the fault of the dastardly Australian Labor Party:

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has "wrecked" progress within the Liberal Party towards a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, the Liberal Party's first openly gay federal parliamentarian says.

Dean Smith - a conservative senator from WA who recently revealed he now supports same-sex marriage - said he felt "personally disappointed" by Ms Plibersek's decision to push for a binding Labor vote on the issue at the party's national conference in July.

"If the ALP was to adopt a binding vote on same-sex marriage then the issue of a conscience vote in the Liberal Party is dead," Senator Smith told Fairfax Media.

"Conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage and a conscience vote will be sitting pretty. Tanya Plibersek will be the first line in their argument.

"This has put the cause back and she needs to explain herself to same-sex marriage proponents.

"There has been a slow and cautious approach to achieving a conscience vote and she has wrecked that."

Senator Smith said he suspected Ms Plibersek's position was more about internal Labor politics than advancing the cause of same-sex marriage. 

Labor's platform currently supports same-sex marriage but does not make it compulsory for Labor MPs to support it in a parliamentary vote. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is on the record as a supporter of a conscience vote on the issue. 

The fact that Labor has allowed its parliamentarians a conscience vote has been one of the primary arguments of those lobbying for the Liberal Party to overturn its binding opposition to gay marriage.

Liberal politicians have traditionally prided themselves as having more freedom to vote according to their conscience than Labor politicians, who risk expulsion from the party for crossing the floor.

"I have always been distrustful of the Left on this issue and now my personal fears have been realised," Senator Smith said. 

A spokesman said Ms Plibersek would not comment on internal Liberal Party issues. Earlier she said Labor should adopt a binding vote on the issue because same-sex marriage is an issue of legal discrimination, not conscience……

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