MP Christopher Pyne reportedly accused Tony Abbott of ‘branch stacking’ over gay marriage vote

Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty.

Education minister Christopher Pyne accused prime minister Tony Abbott of “branch stacking” after the PM suggested the Coalition party room, and not the Liberal party room, should decide whether MPs have a free vote on same-sex marriage.

Abbott said a special party room meeting will be held today at 3.15pm and he hopes the meeting will resolve the issue, raised this morning by Queensland MP Warren Entsch who plans to introduce a private member’s bill supporting same-sex marriage.

“I reviewed at the end of the party room… my pre-election statement: If this matter, same-sex marriage, were to come up in the next parliament then it would be dealt by the Coalition party room in the same way… and dealt with as swiftly as possible,” Abbott said.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop, who was beside Abbott when he spoke at a media conference in Canberra, said, “The prime minister committed this to being a Coalition discussion.”

The PM continued, “I think all of us want a way forward here, whether that be maintaining the existing position.. or finding another way. It’s a matter for the party.

“My position hasn’t changed, we’ll see what the party room has to say.”

The decision being made by the joint party room would likely make it harder for a free vote to be granted, given few Nationals support gay marriage.

The Coalition went to the last election in favour of heterosexual marriage only.

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