Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt told reporters today that he is concerned the government are trying to rush a debate on a gay marriage bill to get it off the political agenda.
Labor MP Stephen Jones’ Marriage Amendment Bill is set to be debated for half an hour tonight in the House of Representatives.
Gay marriage supporter Bandt told reporters in Canberra this is a sign the government are trying to get rid of a tricky issue for them. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is getting increasing criticism for standing firm in opposition to gay marriage and Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott is being pressurized to allow his MPs a free conscience vote into the issue, rather than sticking by the party line against gay marriage.
‘I am concerned that the government is trying to bring this on for debate and push it to an early vote so that Tony Abbott is not brought under any more pressure to grant a conscience vote,’ said Bandt according to AAP.
Bandt said Gillard was on the ‘wrong side of history’ in her opposition of gay marriage.
‘We have to make sure we do not fast-track a debate in the House Of Reps only to see the vote lose in an attempt to get it off the election agenda,’ Bandt added.
The Senate, Australian parliament’s upper house where there is more support for gay marriage, is set to debate Senator Hanson-Green’s Marriage Equality Bill on Thursday.
In Australian parliament, bills started either in the House of Representatives or the Senate can be passed into law, but they need to be approved by the other house. Abbot’s refusal to allow Liberal and National MPs to vote freely in a conscience vote on the issue means it is unlikely a gay marriage bill will be passed.