At least eight Government MPs chose to abstain from yesterday’s final conscience vote on same-sex marriage in the House of Representatives.
In the end there was no official record of the overwhelming support for the bill, because the Government benches were overflowing with Coalition, Labor and crossbench supporters.
Only four MPs voted no — the Coalition’s Russell Broadbent, Keith Pitt and David Littleproud, and crossbencher Bob Katter.
According to the standing orders, if fewer than five people oppose a bill, it passes “on the voices” and the names of those who backed it are not officially recorded.
However, a number of staunch opponents of the same-sex marriage bill were notably absent during the vote.
Who abstained from the same-sex marriage vote?
- Barnaby Joyce (Nationals)
- Tony Abbott (Liberals)
- Andrew Hastie (Liberals)
- Michael Sukkar (Liberals)
- Kevin Andrews (Liberals)
- Scott Morrison (Liberals)
- George Christensen (LNP)
- Rick Wilson (Liberals)
What about no votes?
- Bob Katter (independent)
- Russell Broadbent (Liberal)
- Keith Pitt (Nationals)
- David Littleproud (Nationals)
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was among those who abstained.
“I said at the start I believe in the current definition of marriage and I’ve said that all the way along,” he told reporters in Sydney today.
“But I said I’d never vote against the wishes of the Australian people and I didn’t.”
His frontbench colleague Scott Morrison was another high-profile member of the Government who elected to abstain.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott was also out of the chamber, along with Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar, Kevin Andrews, Rick Wilson and George Christensen.
His electorate of Dawson voted 55 per cent in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.
“I told my electorate I would not vote against their wishes,” Mr Christensen said to explain his decision to abstain.
“However I am concerned the same-sex marriage bill failed to protect religious liberty.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was questioned about Mr Abbott’s decision to abstain rather than voting against the legislation.
Mr Turnbull said he did not notice his predecessor’s absence.
“Well, it’s a free vote,” he said.
“You can vote against it or abstain if you wish.”
Mr Abbott’s Sydney electorate of Warringah was 75 per cent in favour of same-sex marriage, according to the postal survey.