David Leyonhjelm to push Abbott on marriage equality

Senator David Leyonhjelm

A leadership spill plagues the Prime Minister, but Tony Abbott may have another battle to fight when parliament resumes next week.

 

Senator David Leyonhjelm is threatening to block government legislation unless Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote on his bill for marriage equality.

Mr Abbott reportedly counselled the Liberal Democratic Senator against the measures, which are similar to those voted down by the then Opposition Leader in 2012.

Senator Leyonhjelm has made headlines in recent months over his libertarian views on gun control, but he believes it’s this political perspective that will make his bill succeed where others have failed.

He told SBS that approaching the issue from an angle other than gay rights or discrimination may be enough to get his amendment over the line.

“You may approve or disapprove of same sex marriage – we’re not really asking people to approve or disapprove,” he said.

“All we’re really saying is it’s not the government’s business to be telling people who they can and can’t marry.”

Senator Leyonhjelm wants a conscience vote from the Coalition and is willing to follow the lead of former Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie and block government legislation until a free vote is granted.

“I haven’t said I’ll go the full Lambie, so I’m not just going to block everything,” he said.

“But the government needs my cooperation… If the government is going to be obstructive and refuse to even entertain the idea of a conscience vote, then my cooperation will go away.”

Senator Leyonhjelm said he doesn’t want to create a “time crisis” over the bill, but wants it resolved by the budget.

He said any leadership spill wouldn’t affect his bill, which follows a previous attempt that failed to attract support from prominent Liberals including Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb.

“I don’t think it’ll make a lot of difference,” he said.

“[Tony Abbott] has agreed to be more consultative and less captain’s picks.”

Senator Leyonhjelm’s bill comes less than three years after a similar proposal put forward by then Labor backbencher Stephen Jones in 2012, which was voted down by the House of Representatives, 98 to 42.

A year later, the Australian Capital Territory passed the Marriage Equality Bill allowing same sex couples to wed in the same city where federal politicians voted similar laws down.

The new law gave couples less than a week to get married before the Australian High Court overruled the legislation.

Watch SBS World News on Saturday at 6.30pm for more on this story.

Source SBS

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