Australian Parliament now has ‘clear majority’ for equal marriage but election result uncertain

After Australia’s federal elections, the majority of MPs and Senators now support equal marriage – but power now hangs in the balance.

The country’s right-wing PM Malcolm Turnbull had blocked a Parliamentary vote on equal marriage ahead of last week’s election, instead making plans for a plebiscite (public vote) to avoid a rift with his own MPs.

Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten said a plebiscite would be expensive and pointless, and promised to introduce equal marriage through a simple vote in Parliament.

The issue was key ahead of the July 2 elections in both the House and the Senate.

Following the vote, preliminary counts show the two parties neck-and-neck, but due to a smattering of smaller parties gaining seats, it is unclear if either will be able to form a government.

76 seats are required for a majority under the country’s complex electoral system.

Though the Coalition is ahead on votes, the country’s Electoral Commission projects Labor will gain at least 71 seats and the Coalition at least 67 seat.

However, other expert prjections differ – one has the Coalition on 68 and Labor 67, while another has the Coalition on 70 and Labor on 67.

It may take days or even weeks for the final result to become clear, but advocacy groups say there is now a clear majority for equal marriage among MPs either way.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Dr Shirleene Robinson said: “This election has delivered more MPs who back marriage equality for every Australian.

“Over the past two months, Australian Marriage Equality has undertaken its largest ever election campaign in more than 30 seats across Australia.

“In many seats where AME has run its election campaign, we have seen support shift from communities and MPs for marriage equality.

“Our national team of volunteers and supporters worked tirelessly in seats such as Capricornia, Macarthur, Hindmarsh and Barton where we now have MPs backing marriage equality.

“This election saw a record number of LGBTI candidates and we welcome new supporting MPs such as Tim Wilson in Goldstein and Trevor Evans in Brisbane.

She added: “Now that the election is over, marriage equality should be achieved by a free vote in the parliament.

“The support levels right across the political spectrum is wonderfully encouraging and shows that marriage equality is an issue that transcends party politics.”