ACTING Prime Minster Julie Bishop is leaving her options open about supporting WA colleague Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage Bill but backs the overall change she says appears increasingly likely.
“If the ‘Yes’ vote gets up I will facilitate the passage of a Bill, but whether it’s Dean’s or a variation it’s too early to say,” Ms Bishop said after a beach run at North Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club this morning.
Conservative-leaning MPs in the Federal Government are now flagging up to 100 changes to the Bill to secure their definitions of the protections of religious beliefs, schools and parental responsibilities that Senator Smith said are already covered in his proposals.
Ms Bishop’s sudden elevation to the nation’s top job for four days was caused by former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce being excluded from office by a High Court decision on his default New Zealand citizenship, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull being in Israel for the Battle of Beersheba centenary this week.
Ms Bishop said she expected the same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ postal vote to succeed in her own western suburbs electorate of Curtin, and backed Mr Joyce as a “passionate fighter” for the NSW electorate of New England.
She said she would not break precedence and release legal advice to Cabinet about Mr Joyce’s contested citizenship.
Former Morley MLA Ian Brixta is also contesting the NSW seat as an Australian Country Party candidate at the December 2 by-election.
“He is obviously going to take his chances in the seat of New England,” Ms Bishop said.
This morning, the Federal Government announced investigating a potential $5 billion gas pipeline from the North West Shelf to eastern states struggling with a combination of ageing coal-fired power plants, a lack of decisions for decades from all governments on carbon taxes and rising power prices.
Ms Bishop said a pipeline was the “obvious answer” to transporting WA resources to the east coast, and urged all premiers to reinvigorate using their other energy sources.
She again rebuffed inquiries about every having her own prime ministership.
“I’m not fazed by the acting-Prime Minister role, and I’m very happy in my jobs as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party and as Foreign Minister,” she said.