Canning MP Andrew Hastie has confirmed he will abstain from voting on same-sex marriage legislation after a survey of his electorate voted in favour of the changes.
Mr Hastie said he recognised the yes campaign had won a cultural and legal mandate for the change in law, but that abstaining from the vote would respect the outcome of the postal survey, allow him to exercise his freedom of conscience and give a voice to the 40 per cent of his electorate who voted no.
The Canning electorate, which includes Mandurah, Pinjarra, Dwellingup and the Peel region, returned 60.2 per cent support for the change in the survey.
Mr Hastie said he had been open about his intention to abstain from a parliamentary vote even if his electorate supported same-sex marriage.
Obviously, I’m disappointed, but now the yes side has both a cultural and legal mandate going forward and that’s really, really important for significant social change.Canning MP Andrew Hastie
“It was only in July last year when the plebiscite policy was given form,” he said.
“We went to the election with it, I was on television saying I would abstain, I’ve been in dialogue with constituents for the last 18 months and whenever I’ve talked to them about the issue, I’ve said I would abstain.
“My intention is to abstain because to vote yes would go against my conscience, but I want to uphold both the vote in Canning and the national result and abstention is the best way to do that.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected same-sex marriage to be enacted by Christmas.
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Mr Hastie said abstaining from the vote would not alter the outcome of same-sex marriage legislation.
However, he also said he would be voting on amendments to same-sex marriage legislation aimed at preserving freedoms.
“One thing I will do is fight for protections for parents to be able to educate and raise their children in accordance with their moral and religious convictions,” he said.
“I’ll fight for protections for freedom of conscience and speech and I’ll fight for protections for freedom of religion as well.
“It would be disrespectful to vote no in the parliament, but abstention is a very legitimate course of action for me to take and I’ve been open and honest about that for some time.”