Cory Bernardi
Cory Bernardi

Joining fellow Coalition MP Eric Abetz, Bernardi says he will vote against the Australian people on marriage equality if necessary.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has joined Eric Abetz in saying that he will not vote in favour of same-sex marriage, even if a public plebiscite shows national favour.

Bernardi said, “There’s no way I’m ever going to cast a vote in favour of changing marriage. I don’t know what I would be expected to do so.”

He echoes Abetz’s expressed concern about how the question will be presented to Australian voters.

“There are people who are always going to be supportive of changing marriage and people who are always going to be opposed to it, and you can’t expect people to cast a vote in favour of something that is against everything they believe in simply because a majority of Australians say that should be the case,” Bernardi stated.

“If the Australian people, 51% to 49% say, ‘Yes, we want to change the Marriage Act,’ maybe it’s incumbent on some of us to say we’re going to represent the 49%.”

These statements are increasing concern about the $150 million costs of a national plebiscite.

Cabinet Secretary, Arthur Sinodinos, has argued that there is no point in offering a plebiscite if the politicians are not going to acknowledge the people’s vote.

Sinodinos, in reference to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision last August for a plebiscite, stated, “Tony Abbott was right then, and he’s right now in that there’s no point having a plebiscite if you don’t take notice of what the people have to say. I respect the right of some of my colleagues for reasons of conscience to depart from that, but I think we owe it to the public to have a sincere process in which we consult them and respect the outcome of that process.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes that taxpayer money should not go towards funding ‘nasty’ campaigns against marriage equality.

Shorten said, “I’m not convinced that we need to spend $160 million on an opinion poll merely because Malcolm Turnbull has to implement Tony Abbott’s delaying tactics on marriage equality. If Malcolm Turnbull is too weak to confront the right of his party, Labor will have the parliament vote within 100 days of being elected.”

Labor MP Mark Dreyfus said, “This absurd notion makes a complete joke of our democratic process and renders a $160 million national plebiscite totally pointless.”

Labor MP Terri Butler added that the comments have shown the plans for a plebiscite were “nothing more than an obstruction tactic.”

Greens Senator Robert Simms is urging Prime Minister Turnbull to allow a free parliamentary vote as soon as possible. He said, “It’s ironic that Eric Abetz doesn’t want a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality, but when it comes to implementing the outcome of any plebiscite, that’s a different story. He wants some sort of veto power if he doesn’t like the outcome. This just demonstrates what complete nonsense this plebiscite is.”

Turnbull said in October last year that his government would abide by the decision made by the Australian people and anyone arguing against that decision was “not living in the real world.”