Just two frontbench ministers bothered to turn up to Australian equal marriage debate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Just two Australian government frontbenchers dared to show their face as a same-sex marriage bill was introduced today.

A number of same-sex marriage bills are set to come before the Australian Parliament this month, but anti-gay marriage PM Tony Abbott failed to afford a free vote for his MPs – binding them to vote against equality.

He also declared he will sack any ministers who defy him and vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch introduced a bill today, which is expected to fail. Nearly the entire opposition Labor frontbench was present, including pro-equal marriage leader Bill Shorten.

However, just two frontbench government ministers – Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull – dared to turn up to watch the bill be introduced.

The pair have publicly feuded with Mr Abbott over his approach. Mr Turnbull has said that a proposed public vote should be held before the next election – while Mr Abbott is attempting to kick it into the long grass and hold it after 2017.

After the bill was introduced, debate was adjourned.

new poll will make sombre reading for Mr Abbott.

The Fairfax/Ipsos poll found that nationally, 69 percent of people are in support of same-sex marriage – which appears to be so high that any mooted plebiscite would be effectively redundant. Just 25 percent of Australians now oppose same-sex marriage.

Worse news for Mr Abbott – who is a year-and-a-half away from a key election – is that his approach also goes down badly with his own voters.

53 percent of voters for his Liberal-National Coalition supported same-sex marriage, with just 40 percent opposed – meaning that Mr Abbott is putting off his own supporters over the issue.