Today Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP, is calling on local senators to publicly declare their support for a 'free vote' on marriage equality.
According to Australian Marriage Equality (www.australianmarriageequality.org/whereyourmpstands/), Senator Michael Ronaldson is opposed to marriage equality and until a week ago, Senator Bridget McKenzie was opposed but is now ‘undecided’.
“In my opinion, if both senators vote against marriage equality it will show just how out of touch they are with the views of the local community.
“The public declaration from local small businesses of their support for marriage equality is another example of how the majority of Bendigo and Central Victorians feel about this issue.
“Even if Senator McKenzie and Senator Ronaldson are at odds with the views of Bendigo, it would be disappointing if they denied their fellow Liberal and National MPs a free vote on this issue.
“I strongly believe the numbers are there to support marriage equality, if all MPs and senators are given the chance of a free vote.
“The vast majority of Labor MPs and senators have declared their support for marriage equality. Combined with the support of the minor parties, it would only take a few Liberal or National MPs and senators to vote in favour of passing this important Bill to be able to amend the Marriage Act.
“If our local senators won't change their minds and support marriage equality they should, at the very least, publicly support a 'free vote',” said Ms Chesters.
A free vote - or conscience vote - is when MPs and senators are not bound to vote by the party room position. In 2012 Labor's national conference granted Labor MPs a conscience or free vote on this matter if it was to come before the Parliament.