Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley says she is under internal party pressure to publicly declare her support for same-sex marriage, even though she is voting against it.
Senator Polley (pictured) told The Australian newspaper she had been warned by Labor colleagues her views could lead to her being “responsible for losing the next federal election”.
“It would be much easier for my life, in some respects, in dealing with my colleagues to change my position and support same-sex marriage,” she said.
“There is pressure from outside, there is pressure from friends, from colleagues, from staffers.
“But I have to be true to the people who elected me, the people who supported me over three election campaigns and still contact me.”
But Senator Penny Wong dismissed the claim, saying the party has a free vote on marriage equality and the majority of Labor MPs and senators support it.
“Helen’s position (on marriage equality) has been well known for a very long time, for as long as I’ve known her, and she’s entitled to hold that view,” Senator Wong told reporters in Perth.
Asked if she supported the right of Labor MPs and senators to vote ‘no’, she replied, “I uphold the rules of the party and the party has gone through a lengthy process here of resolving its position and the overwhelming majority … will be voting yes.”
Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh told Sky News he was unsure what Senator Polley had been told.
“I can certainly tell you though that the vast majority of my colleagues will be supporting marriage equality,” he said.
“Labor allows our members and senators a free vote. The vast majority of Labor senators and members will be voting yes.”
However, Labor MPs and senators will no longer have a free vote after the next election but Mr Leigh is confident the postal survey, which closes on November 7, will be successful and allow the issue to be resolved before the year ends.