A Government frontbencher says the Coalition will absolutely be granted a free vote on same-sex marriage and has laughed off calls from right-wing senators for ministers to quit their jobs if they want to vote in favour of change, reports Fairfax Media.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also declined to back the call for frontbench resignations, but continued to pour cold water on the push for change, saying his Government was focused on the economy and it would be "quite unusual" for Parliament to vote on a private member's bill such as the cross-party push for gay marriage.
Conservative senators Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz mobilised on Thursday, responding to revelations two government backbenchers, Teresa Gambaro and Warren Entsch, are drafting and co-sponsoring a cross-party private member's bill to legalise gay marriage.
But one frontbencher has told Fairfax Media there would be no need for ministers to make such a choice because the party room would "absolutely" be given a free vote.
"We are the party of Menzies and it's ridiculous to think the party of Menzies would not allow a free vote on an issue such as this, irrespective of your views," the frontbencher said.
Liberal MPs are free to vote according to their conscience at any time, unlike the Labor party, which expels backbenchers who stray from the party line.