Page MP backs marriage equality referendum
FEDERAL Member for Page Kevin Hogan has thrown his full support behind the Coalition government's decision to take marriage equality to a public vote, either in a referendum or a plebiscite.
"I am not disappointed in this decision at all," Mr Hogan said. "I have always said that I would prefer the Australian public to make the decision on marriage equality, not the Australian politicians.
"For normal legislation changes and such it is the process of politicians to represent their constituents, but this is not an ordinary piece of legislation.
"This is a cultural shift for our country and as such should be a decision made by the people of this country."
The decision to move toward a public vote on the matter came at the end of a long day of party room deliberations on Monday.
It was reported that several Coalition frontbenchers and backbenchers had put their support behind a conscience vote. Mr Hogan was reported to have been one of these Coalition members.
Liberal party backbencher Warren Entsch has already made suggestions he will still introduce a private member's bill next week despite his party's decision to take the matter to a public vote.
Mr Hogan said he would be willing to cross the floor to vote on legislation but he does not believe any legislation will be raised from now.
"I don't think the legislation will be raised now," Mr Hogan said. "My one caveat in all of this marriage equality debate is that the churches have to be protected from anti-discrimination legislation.
"If the churches are protected in the legislation then I would agree with it. I would be willing to cross the floor, but I don't think that is going to be necessary."
Mr Hogan stood by the government's decision and said this was not a blocking of marriage equality but rather a genuine gesture of cooperation.
"We aren't going to do it in the life of this parliament and that is the decision that was made," he said. "But that does not mean we are stopping it. We are saying the decision will be made but by the public after the next election.
"I think this has to go to a referendum. That way the decision made by the public is binding and the law has to come into effect. This is a genuine gesture by the Coalition government.
"There are members in the public who are for marriage equality and then there are those who are against it and they are both very passionate."
AN INTERESTING point to consider if the same-sex marriage decision does go to a plebiscite vote in the next Government term is that we have only had two plebiscites in Australia.
In both 1916 and 1917 the government held plebiscites relating to the introduction of conscription in the First World War.
The polls were very closely contested but the 'No' vote was successful on both occasions.