A parliamentary free vote on gay marriage could break the coalition deal between the Liberals and the Nationals, a government MP says.
George Christensen issued the warning in the event of the government proceeding with the alternative to the doomed plebiscite.
‘When you’re breaking one of the fundamentals of the coalition deal you’ve obviously decided to break the coalition deal,’ the Nationals MP told Sky News on Wednesday.
‘There would be some serious repercussions.’
But the outspoken government backbencher said a free vote won’t happen and neither would a coalition break up.
‘That would be quite the serious matter so I don’t think that’s going to eventuate.’
The Turnbull government is under pressure to explain whether it has a Plan B to to plebiscite, which appears doomed after the opposition formally rejected enabling legislation. The coalition hasn’t won enough crossbench support in the Senate to get it through the parliament.
Meanwhile, Australia’s first female Aboriginal MP Linda Burney says her son doesn’t want a national vote to legitimise his same-sex relationship.
While her son wants to marry one day, Ms Burney says he doesn’t want the law changed by a plebiscite.
The Labor MP also used the 1967 referendum that counted indigenous people in the population as an example of why a plebiscite would be damaging.
‘When I was 10 years old this country had a referendum about my rights,” she told parliament during debate on the plebiscite bill on Wednesday.
‘I am lucky that I was mostly protected from the no campaign back then but there is no doubt that many were not.
‘Awful things were said about Aboriginal people.’
That referendum had to occur, she added, because the change was made to the constitution.
A plebiscite was not needed for same-sex marriage, she said.
‘This bill is an absolute failure of leadership,” she said, adding it came from the “Neanderthal attitude of the right-wing rump of the Liberal Party.’
Same-sex couples wanting to get married would prefer to wait until there was a free vote in parliament, she argued.