Australia: Treasurer says Kevin Rudd’s commitment to equal marriage may offer political advantage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The ACT Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr, has predicted that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s commitment to introduce same-sex marriage could bring with it a political advantage in several seats in next month’s election.

Mr Rudd on Sunday promised to allow a full conscience vote on equal marriage, should be be re-elected in next month’s election.

“I support marriage equality, I believe this is a mark of decency to same sex couples across the country and for that to be formalised,” Rudd said.

Barr, who entered  a civil union with his partner Anthony Toms in 2009 praised Mr Rudd’s decision.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, I suspect that there will be a political outcome for him,” Mr Barr said.
A lot of people have been calling for this and it will appeal to younger and more progressive voters.

“It will play positively in the ACT seats and, on the national stage, I think there are at least half a dozen seats that are not held by the Labor Party where this will assist the Labor candidates.”

Mr Rudd announced his support for equal marriage in May, having previously been against it.

Back in June, just one day after being sworn in, the Prime Minister  announced his intentions to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage unless a free vote is held.

Following a leadership ballot, Mr Rudd took over the role from Julia Gillard, who is strongly opposed to equal marriage.

Mr Rudd’s support is in stark contrast to Julia Gillard, who said on becoming prime minister in 2010: “We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples.”

She ruled out introducing equal marriage in May following neighbouring New Zealand’s decision to introduce the measure.

Along with Julia Gillard, Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott continues to oppose equal marriage and refuses to allow his Liberal MPs a conscience vote.