Conservative Senator Eric Abetz said that a plebiscite on equality of marriage would not influence the decision of individual MPs. According to him, each member of the parliament will have the liberty to decide whether a plebiscite rightly reflects the nation’s decision on the issue.
“I would need to determine whether (the plebiscite) really is an accurate reflection, whether it is all above board or whether the question is stacked, whether all sides received public funding,” Abetz, a former minister in Abbott government, told the Guardian Australia website on Wednesday.
He added, “But everyone knows my view is very strongly that a marriage between a man and a woman is the foundational institution for socialising the next generation. And every member of parliament will make up his or her mind after the plebiscite is held. People will take into account the views of the electorate, the views of the nation and their own personal views.”
Abetz argued that some members of the parliament many not be able to accept the outcome of a plebiscite. He sought the example of Warren Entsch, a pro-marriage equality backbencher, and said that he doesn’t think Entsch would stop campaigning if the outcome of the plebiscite is ‘no.’
The senator’s statement contradicts Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s views on the issue, who promised that the government would accept the decision of the people derived from a national plebiscite to be held after the next election.
“When the Australian people make their decision, that decision will stick,” he told the Parliament in October. “It will be decisive. It will be respected by this government and by this parliament and this nation.”
According to government frontbencher Steve Ciobo, though the senator is free to voice his own opinion, but it would be ‘passing strange’ to ignore the wish of the majority Australians.
“Any politician, any member of parliament, would really have to think twice before they snub their nose at the view of a majority of Australians,” he told Sky News.