PARTY leaders Clive Palmer and Bob Katter have left it open for their MPs and senators to vote with their consciences on social issues such as same-sex marriage.
The next parliament could deal with a number of contentious issues, with a re-elected Labor government promising a bill on same-sex marriage and the Greens seeking laws to allow voluntary euthanasia.
Members of Mr Katter’s Australian Party have quit over the issue of same-sex marriage.
But two of his senate candidates, James Blundell in Queensland and Steven Bailey in the ACT, have gone public with their support for a change to marriage laws.
Asked how he would approach the issue, Mr Katter said Mr Blundell and Mr Bailey had spoken out “courageously” and had the right to argue their case.
But Mr Katter said he had 20 major policies to pursue, aimed at developing agriculture and manufacturing, and that would consume his party’s time and energy.
“We don’t want to be fooling around with irrelevancies,” Mr Katter told the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday.
“If you join our party this is what we’ve got to do.”
Mr Palmer said his party members had the right to vote with their consciences on all social issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and voluntary euthanasia.
“We don’t believe you should compel people to vote against their deeply-held religious or other feelings one way or the other,” Mr Palmer said.
But the Palmer United Party leader said he would not publicly state his position on any conscience issues, as he did not believe party leaders should “intimidate” other members.
Asked whether his members would be able to vote as they saw fit on all legislation and motions, Mr Palmer said they would have to stick to party policy.
Mr Katter said his party’s agenda would influence the way he and his members would vote, but they would not be a pushover for any future government.
“I know how to play this game and we will play it with a fair degree of ruthlessness,” he said.
Mr Palmer, a Queensland-based billionaire who is running in the seat of Fairfax, revealed he would oppose the coalition’s paid parental leave scheme if elected because it was “discriminatory”.
His alternative plan would pay new mothers $50,000 for six months. – AAP