Bid for Labor binding vote for same sex marriage fails

LABOR MPs are expected to make conscience votes on same sex marriage for the next two terms after a push to enact a binding party-wide stance in favour of equality appeared to fail.

The compromise arrived at the party's national conference in Melbourne today, where Federal Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek had led a left-faction push for a binding vote.

Bill Shorten strengthened his position as party leader by arguing a conscience vote was needed in the short-term, with a binding vote to be introduced in the third term.

"Let us ask of Mr Abbott that he gives a free vote to all members of his party and of course if we ask for him to give a free vote, we must extend that ourselves," he said.

Despite her initial push, Ms Plibersek appears to have reached a settlement with Mr Shorten and will second his motion for a conscience vote.

Debate as still underway at 5.20pm today.

Mr Shorten further shored up his leader's status in a debate over whether Labor would agree never to turn back asylum seeker boats.

Federal MP Andrew Giles had pushed for the party to eliminate the practice, calling it unsafe and "clearly contrary to our international obligations".

He had the support of frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who told ABC that "if people were in a boat, including families and children, I myself couldn't turn that around".

"I couldn't ask someone to do something that I couldn't see myself doing," he said. "I would want to make sure that they were safe and secure."

But Mr Shorten successfully argued they were crucial to stemming the flow of illegal refugees, and could be carried out safely.

"A Labor government will support immigration, we will support refugees and we will not reopen the lethal seaway between Indonesia and Christmas Island," he said.

Hundreds of protesters outside the Melbourne conference were calling for marriage equality vote and an end to children being kept in detention.

A colourful moment arrived when the party accepted a motion condemning former federal Labor minister Martin Ferguson as "a disgrace" for his "self-serving public commentary" on the coal seam gas debate.


EARLIER: Labor Party conference to consider same sex marriage vote

THE Labor Party conference will today consider whether to force its members to vote for same sex marriage.

At the moment Labor MPs have a conscience vote but there is a move from some in the left faction, including Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek, to ensure they would be "bound" to vote for marriage equality after the next election.

That would leave those MPs and senators who oppose gay marriage having to abstain or cross the floor, which could see them expelled from the party.

Opponents of the change say denying MPs a conscience vote would make it harder to encourage Prime Minister Tony Abbott to agree to giving his MPs a conscience vote.

The push for a binding vote is set to fail, with some labelling it a "messy" plan because it leaves a conscience vote in place before the next election but then scraps it after that.

Read more at ABC News

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