CANBERRA -- A senior Coalition minister has restated current Government policy on same-sex marriage after being recorded saying to Liberal colleagues and supporters that marriage equality will happen "sooner than anyone thinks".
On a tape obtained by News Corp, Defence Industry Minister and Leader of the Government in the House Christopher Pyne was free with his opinions to a gathering of moderate Liberals after a Liberal Party gala dinner last Friday.
I support marriage equality and if Labor had supported the plebiscite, it would now be a reality. The govt has no plans to alter the policy.— Christopher Pyne (@cpyne) June 25, 2017
Pyne appears, in the recording, to be expressing hope, not a particular plan, but former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has accused him, on Monday of disloyalty.
"Friends, we are in the winner's circle but we have to deliver a couple of things and one of those we've got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country," Pyne is reported as saying.
"We're going to get it. I think it might even be sooner than everyone thinks. And your friends in Canberra are working on that outcome."
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is concerned about any possible plans to "dump" the current policy for a same-sex marriage plebiscite, telling Sydney radio 2GB it would be a "breach of faith with the people".
He's accused Pyne of disloyalty.
"If you are a member of the Cabinet you have got to be loyal and Christopher Pyne was not just a member of my Cabinet, he was actually in the leadership team. And it is important that you show loyalty," Abbott told host Ray Hadley.
"And if he is to be believed on Friday night, that loyalty was never there which is incredibly disappointing."
Supporting legislation for a $170 million plebiscite failed to get through the Senate late last year with Labor, the Greens, Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch blocking it as expensive, divisive and likely to lead to self harm, or possibly suicides.
The recording of the Pyne comments has not been aired so HuffPost Australia cannot verify it or the exact context of the Minister's reported comments, but conservative commentators, including Andrew Bolt, are now attacking Pyne for moving to break the Coalition's election promise to hold a plebiscite.
The Minister is also reportedly heard boasting that the Liberal Party is now run by his moderate faction.
In a statement, Pyne said he supported the current Turnbull Government policy on marriage equality in Australia.
"I support marriage equality and if Labor had supported the plebiscite, marriage equality would be a reality now."
"The Government has no plans to alter the policy."
Christopher Pyne statement
Earlier, Pyne's office said the Minister did not say marriage equality was "imminent".
As well, Treasurer Scott Morrison has told Sunrise there is no change in policy.
"We have a policy. We took it to the last election. That's the policy we've honoured in this Parliament," he said.
"The only party that's standing in the way of people having their say on this issue is the Labor Party.
"There's no move away from the plebiscite policy."
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