The controversial South Australian senator singled out several colleagues in a feisty interview with BuzzFeed News.
Exclusive: Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has hit out at several frontbenchers from his own party, saying they should move to the backbench if they wish to continue to advocate for same-sex marriage.
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The controversial South Australian senator singled out several colleagues in an interview with BuzzFeed News.
“Malcolm Turnbull has been agitating [for marriage equality]. He's in cabinet. You've had the prime minister's sister say the other day that Josh Frydenberg has been involved in it. Simon Birmingham has been involved in it. Kelly O'Dwyer has been involved.”
“These people have frontbench responsibilities. It is their obligation to reflect the party's view and not indulge in their own frolics and fantasies. If they don't like it, [they should] take themselves off the frontbench. Go to the backbench and they can say and do whatever they please.”
“Our party has a policy position,” Mr Bernardi said “We now have frontbenchers who are actively undermining that policy position and publicly saying they would like something different. That breaks every rule of cabinet solidarity and ministerial responsibility. And I think that sets a very bad precedent.”
“If they're allowed to [cross party lines] on this, because 'it's a difficult decision', as the prime minister says, then let's do it on everything else.”
The comments come after Labor today attempted to introduce a marriage equality bill to parliament.
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Debate on the bill was adjourned because the opposition did not have the numbers to push it further. A cross-party bill with bipartisan support is now seen as likely to come before parliament later this year.
Mr Bernardi supports his party's current policy opposing same-sex marriage, and denies his position is based in prejudice.
“It's not that we don't like homosexuals, it's just that we don't want to see a word re-defined. I think it changes a heck of a lot in our culture.”
“If you look at marriage historically over thousands of years it's been about the union of a man and a woman, with the intention of providing an environment in which to raise children.”
“A man and a woman are complementary. I think they're both important in the raising of children. If you're going to say ok well now we can have two men or two women, you're redefining that institution over thousands of years. You're virtually endorsing that it's not important to a child to have either a mother or a father.”
“There are same-sex couples who raise children and do a wonderful job, and who do a better job than heterosexual couples. There are single parents who do a better job.”
“But men contribute something to the raising of children. As do women. I think they're both important. I'm not going to say no, you can do without one or the other, without it having any effect on the kid.”