BREAKING: O'Brien skips Same Sex Marriage amendment vote
WIDE Bay MP Llew O'Brien did not use his vote during debate on amendments to the Same Sex Marriage bill this morning and was not one of the 125 to speak on the momentous legislative change, saying it was in keeping with his position on the issue.
Michael Sukkar's unsuccessful amendments would have created two categories of marriage and would also have given new celebrants the ability to refuse to marry couples if they hold a "genuine religious or conscientious belief".
Similar amendments moved in the Senate by Liberal senators James Paterson and David Fawcett were rejected.
Mr O'Brien abstained from the vote this morning, but there are more amendments to be put to the vote today.
"My position is that there are already too many people in Parliament who speak for the purpose of hearing their own voice," he told The Gympie Times.
"On this matter, the voice I asked to hear was that of the Australian people.
"They answered in a very clear voice and my job now is to get the job done according to their will."
Mr O'Brien declared via Facebook following the postal survey result it was time for the Australian Parliament to get on with the job "and draw up legislation that will provide for that yes vote while protecting religious freedoms in a fair and reasonable way".
"Prior to the 2016 election, I made it clear to the voters of Wide Bay that I supported a plebiscite to let the people of the nation decide the issue of Same Sex Marriage. This has been my position from day one, and I maintain that view today," he said.
"The results of the Marriage Equality Survey are clear, with 61.6 per cent of Australians voting in favour of changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
"In my electorate of Wide Bay, 83,572 people voted - that is 79.5 per cent of the electoral roll. Of those, 55.6 per cent were in favour, and 44.4 were against. Wide Bay has voted yes.
"The decision has been made. It was an overwhelming turn-out with a clear-cut result, and I acknowledge the fair and reasonable community discussions around the issue in Wide Bay.
"This is not the time for fighting or party politics. Now the Australian Parliament needs to get on with the job, and draw up legislation that will provide for that yes vote while protecting religious rights and freedoms in a fair and reasonable way.
"That is what I will be voting for, in accordance with the wishes of Wide Bay and the Australian people."
The Bill to legislate for Same Sex Marriage appears likely to pass through the Lower House without the amendments put up by conservatives Andrew Hastie and Michael Sukkar.
If unchanged, the bill will become law. If any amendments are successfully added, it will go back to the Senate for approval.
The Law Council of Australia made a last-minute appeal for members to reject amendments yesterday, saying the SSM bill "already strikes the right balance between protecting the right to religious freedom and right to be free from discrimination".