Factional tensions have flared within the Liberal Party after comments from senior Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne were leaked and reported.
- Pyne says he had voted for Malcolm Turnbull in every ballot he had been in, recording reveals
- Abbot says it’s “disappointing” loyalty was never there
- Leaked recording also reveals Mr Pyne telling function “your friends in Canberra” are working on same-sex marriage
The leaking of Mr Pyne’s remarks made at a private event for his factional allies on Friday evening has exposed a deeper split within the Coalition between conservatives and small ‘l’ Liberals.
He is recorded saying he and his factional allies like George Brandis had voted for Malcolm Turnbull in every ballot he had ever been in.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott agreed when it was put to him this morning that those comments appeared to be evidence Mr Pyne had been plotting behind his back.
“This appears to be the confession that he has made to his close colleagues in the Left faction,” Mr Abbott told radio 2GB.
“Christopher Pyne wasn’t just a member of my cabinet, he was actually in the leadership team and it’s important that you show loyalty.
“But if he’s to be believed on Friday night, that loyalty was never there which is incredibly disappointing.”
The issue has flared today because Mr Pyne’s comments at a private Liberal function during the party’s federal conference on the weekend were recorded and leaked in News Corp newspapers.
They include him suggesting there will be a movement in Parliament soon to allow same-sex marriage.
“Friends, we are in the winner’s circle — but we have to deliver a couple of things and one of those things we’ve got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country,” Mr Pyne said in the recording.
“We’re going to get it. I think it might even be sooner than everyone thinks.
“And your friends in Canberra are working on that outcome.”
‘One of our number has been caught out’
Mr Pyne’s office has issued a statement which does not deny those, comments but adds that he “did not say action on marriage equality was imminent”.
“The Minister said that whilst marriage equality had failed to materialise over the last two years, it would become a reality eventually,” the statement said.
Mr Pyne has since tweeted that he supports marriage equality, but said there are no plans to alter the policy for a plebiscite on same sex marriage.
Christopher Pyne tweet: I support marriage equality and if Labor had supported the plebiscite, it would now be a reality.
But Mr Abbott indicated Mr Pyne’s response today appears to contradict his comments on the weekend.
“Responses like that are among the reasons that the public turn off politicians — because we don’t tell them what we think,” he said.
“And it looks like one of our number has been caught out.
“My point is you have got to be fair dinkum with the Australian people and it looks like that has not been true of Christopher.”
Turnbull: ‘no plan’ to change same-sex marriage policy
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had no plan to change his party’s policy on same-sex marriage, which is to hold a plebiscite to determine public support before a vote in Parliament.
The May federal budget included money for the plebiscite to be held, but there is no indication the Coalition will make another attempt to legislate for a national vote to decide whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriage.
Mr Turnbull said his policy on same-sex marriage was “very clear” and there were “no plans to change it”.
“We have made it very clear that we will allow or support a free vote on same-sex marriage after the Australian people have voted in a plebiscite,” Mr Turnbull said.
“That’s the policy we took to the election and we are sticking to it. We have no plans to change it, I want to be very clear about that.”