No Yes vote change: PM

The West Australian - - NEWS - Sarah Martin Fed­eral Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has de­clared a Yes vote in the same-sex mar­riage sur­vey will have peo­ple see “Par­lia­ment at its best” as he seeks to play down di­vi­sions among his MPs over new re­li­gious pro­tec­tions.

Ar­gu­ing that a con­ser­va­tive at­tempt to over­ride State an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion laws would have “vir­tu­ally no prospect of get­ting through the Par­lia­ment”, Mr Turn­bull said the pub­lic skir­mish over new same-sex mar­riage laws was a nor­mal part of a free vote.

“I'm sure you will all ap­plaud the authen­tic­ity and the pas­sion that will come into the dif­fer­ent views,” Mr Turn­bull said.

But he shot down changes pro­posed by Vic­to­rian se­na­tor James Pater­son to al­low peo­ple such as cake-mak­ers and florists to refuse to take part in same-sex mar­riage cer­e­monies.

“I don’t be­lieve Aus­tralians would wel­come, and cer­tainly the Gov­ern­ment . . . would not coun­te­nance mak­ing le­gal, dis­crim­i­na­tion that is il­le­gal, that is un­law­ful to­day,” he said.

A pri­vate mem­ber’s Bill co-spon­sored by WA Lib­eral se­na­tor Dean Smith, La­bor, Greens and cross­bench sen­a­tors will be in­tro­duced into the Se­nate to­day in what is ex­pected to be the foun­da­tion for changes to the Mar­riage Act.

De­bate on the Bill be­gins to­mor­row and re­sumes when Par­lia­ment re­turns in the last week of this month. The Bill could then be re­ferred to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for fi­nal sign-off in the first week of next month.

Con­ser­va­tives who backed the Pater­son Bill are now shift­ing their fo­cus to amend­ments on the Smith Bill, in recog­ni­tion they do not have the num­bers in Par­lia­ment.

Mr Turn­bull will ar­rive back in Aus­tralia af­ter a week-long visit to South-East Asia, in time for the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Statis­tics to de­clare the re­sult of the postal sur­vey at 10am this morn­ing, Canberra time.

Mr Turn­bull re­jected sug­ges­tions that the bick­er­ing among mod­er­ate and con­ser­va­tive MPs in his party re­flected a lack of lead­er­ship on his part. “You know what lead­er­ship is? It’s keep­ing your prom­ises. It’s de­liv­er­ing,” he said.

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