One of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's closest political allies says moderate Liberal MPs will "absolutely" cross the floor on gay marriage if it comes before parliament.
Former Liberal MP Wyatt Roy spoke on the season one finale of BuzzFeed Australia's political podcast Is it on?, tipping the bucket on former prime minister Tony Abbott, while also definitively saying some of his former factional colleagues were ready to cross the floor on gay marriage.
"Absolutely," said the 27-year-old Roy. "There are definitely people in the parliament who would cross the floor on this issue."
The gay marriage issue exploded again this week after senior government minister Christopher Pyne was caught telling moderate Liberals at a casino bar that marriage equality could be law sooner than most people think.
It was then reported that two moderate Liberal MPs were secretly cooking up a private member's bill to dramatically force a vote in the parliament.
Although Turnbull moved to scuttle the idea, committing the party room to the government's plebiscite policy, there's been speculation that marriage equality could be voted on with just a handful of MPs using parliamentary rules and crossing the floor during a suspension of standing orders.
Unnamed conservative Liberal MPs told newspapers earlier this week that they'll immediately start efforts to bring an end to Turnbull's leadership if the marriage equality push were to occur.
But Roy said moderate Liberals have every right to do it, pointing to conservative MP George Christensen's actions to cross the floor to vote with Labor on penalty rates.
"The great thing is, in the Liberal you can [cross the floor]," he said. "If they were in the Labor Party they'd be expelled from the Labor party, they wouldn't be allowed to sit in the same room, whereas on our side you can.
"George Christensen, our good friend who doesn't share my view on this issue, crossed the floor a few weeks ago.
"Of course you can in the Liberal Party."
The former MP from Queensland works for an American artificial intelligence start-up which sells behavioral insights to private companies.
Roy also roasted Abbott for spending the last few weeks "trashing" the government:
When I look at what Tony is doing now, I can't remember the last time I saw him say something positive about anything. It's up to Tony to decide what he does with his future. When I reflect on my time, am I happier if I make a positive contribution, or a negative one? I am always happier when I am making a positive contribution. Is it that rewarding to jump on shock jock radio and say bad things about your own side? Well, if he thinks it is, great, I don't see how that could be personally rewarding.
The full interview with Wyatt Roy will feature on the season finale of BuzzFeed Australia’s Is it on? podcast. View it on iTunes from this weekend and subscribe here.
Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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