Plebiscite or vote OK: MP

Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent says same-sex marriage could be dealt with by plebiscite or through a conscience vote by Liberal Party MPs.

Mr Broadbent made the comments in a statement to The Express on Friday ahead of today’s emergency Liberal Party meeting to discuss the issue.

Today’s meeting will discuss the issue which has returned to national prominence after moderate MPs began agitating for parliament to address the issue.

A group of moderates is expected to push for the party to give its MPs a conscience vote on the issue.

At last year’s federal election, the Coalition pledged to put the issue to the people in a national plebiscite.

However, the Senate rejected federal government plans to hold a plebiscite, with senators raising concerns about the cost of the vote and arguing that parliament could resolve the issue.

Monday’s meeting is also expected to include discussion on a push by conservative MPs to decide the matter by a postal vote plebiscite.

“I have long maintained that I believe marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman,” Mr Broadbent said.

“For many years, though, I have also supported a conscience vote by members.

“If the parliament takes the issue to a plebiscite I will support whatever decision the people come to.”

The emergency meeting excludes the Liberal’s coalition partners, the National Party, whose members are known for generally holding socially conservative views.

In June 2015, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester became the first Nationals MP to support same-sex marriage.

“While I personally support same-sex marriage, I agreed with the Coalition’s policy of a national plebiscite to allow all Australians a chance to have their say on the issue,” Mr Chester told The Express.

“I can’t speculate on whether a private members bill will be introduced that will be up to the Labor Party.

“I intend to continue to support a compulsory attendance national plebiscite as the fairest way to resolve the issue.”