Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s move to block a free vote on same-sex unions in Australia has divided government lawmakers, intensifying doubts about his judgment six months after he survived a leadership challenge.
Abbott effectively killed off chances of marriage equality until after next year’s elections, as two-thirds of coalition lawmakers supported his demand they vote as a bloc against such unions. But the six-hour debate exposed a divide even among Cabinet members.
“Abbott’s position is weaker now than it was just a few days ago,” said Haydon Manning, a politics professor at Flinders University in Adelaide. “He’s shored up his political base but at the cost of creating a noisy split in the ranks that may overwhelm his main message of being able to deliver good government.”