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Australian Government and Opposition MPs team up for non-partisan gay marriage bill

Australian Government and Opposition MPs team up for non-partisan gay marriage bill

Australian Government MP Warren Entsch and Opposition MP Graham Perrett have announced that they will co-sponsor a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia and will seek the endorsement of lawmakers from other parties in the Parliament so that it is as non-partisan as possible.

Entsch and Perrett announced their plans after Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Parliament during Question Time that were same-sex marriage legalized it should be done in a non-partisan way – so Entsch and Perrett intend to present the Prime Minister with exactly that scenario.

‘If our Parliament were to make a big decision on a matter such as this, I want it to be owned by the Parliament, and not by any particular party,’ Abbott said yesterday.

Perrett told Fairfax newspapers that he hoped that a bill to legalize same-sex marriage put forward by Opposition leader Bill Shorten would be passed by the Parliament but would co-sponsor Entsch’s bill if that failed.

However earlier today Shorten conceded that Abbott was right in that regard so it seems unlikely that he will proceed with his own bill in the face of that.

‘It is the only way it can succeed. Tony Abbott’s right in that but the only way that it can succeed is if Tony Abbott allows a free vote. That is the question which is before the Parliament,’ Shorten said, according to Fairfax newspapers.

Entsch says he knows of several MPs from the opposition Labor Party who are willing to co-sponsor the bill and will be meeting with a group of MPs from the ruling Liberal/National Coalition next week to seek their support for the bill.

The Australian Marriage Equality (AME) campaign welcomed Entsch and Perrett’s willingness to work across party lines on the bill as momentum seems to be building for another vote on the issue in the Parliament.

‘We applaud Warren Entsch and Graham Perrett for their initiative because cross-party co-operation will give marriage equality the best chance of success,’ AME national director Rodney Croome said.

‘We will meet Mr Entsch and Mr Perrett next week to discuss details of their co-sponsored bill, as well as a timetable for reform.’

These developments have come as a slew of figures on the conservative side of Australian politics have been backing calls for a conscience vote to finally be given to Government MPs and Senators.

In the media these include influential broadcsters Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Paul Murray and in the parliament Liberal lawmakers including Greg Hunt, Mal Brough and Ewin Jones and Nationals MP Darren Chester – which brings the number of declared supportive votes in the Government to 12 – while several more support a conscience vote but not the reform itself.