His leadership again under threat, the prime minister is locked in a potentially terminal embrace with his party’s right
There aren’t many votes – either way – in same-sex marriage. A negligible number of people would change their after-preferences support for a major party solely on this issue. Yes, the fact that we lag behind comparable countries is getting embarrassing; it makes the Coalition appear stuck in the last century. But John Howard showed that being a fuddy-duddy didn’t have to be politically terminal.
Still, when the postmortems on Tony Abbott’s prime ministership are delivered, this week’s manoeuvre – the joint party-room vote, the sudden idea of a referendum next term – will figure prominently. And if this parliament runs its full length, those postmortems will likely be written before the next election. Yet it was Abbott’s insecure hold on his position that drove him towards this backflip…
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