Former prime minister Tony Abbott has been slammed as ‘gutless’ for walking out of the parliamentary chamber and failing to vote on the same sex marriage bill.
Mr Abbott, who campaigned for years for a plebiscite, was photographed walking out of the House of Representatives before the bill was passed on Thursday evening.
He voted on some amendments but left the chamber before the final vote. His vote on the final bill was marked as an abstention.
The bill passed the House with an overwhelming majority and became law by royal assent on Friday morning.
This is the moment former prime minister Tony Abbott walked out of the House of Representatives ahead of the final vote on the marriage bill
Mr Abbott voted for several amendments to the marriage bill but failed to appear in the chamber for the final vote, essentially abstaining
People inside the historic Stonewall Hotel in Sydney applauded the passing of the Gay Marriage Bill on Thursday afternoon
Australians around the country erupted in celebration at events, bars and in the streets after same-sex marriage bill passed
Sky News political reporter Laura Jayes took aim at Mr Abbott: ‘He demanded this plebiscite, 75% of his electorate vote yes.
‘If he wanted to vote no despite the result – he should have done so and explain himself.
‘He wasn’t in the chamber. He squibbed it’.
Several Twitter users rounded on the backbencher.
‘I’m not one for political commentary but seriously what a cowardly act @TonyAbbottMHR – you have been elected to represent your community and you have truly failed,’ said one.
Another called it a ‘gutless non-appearance’. Mr Abbott’s office was contacted for comment. He is yet to respond to the criticisms.
At the beginning of the week, Mr Abbott said he accepted same sex marriage must now come about.
‘It’s no secret that I haven’t been a supporter of same-sex marriage,’ he said.
‘I won’t be opposing this bill though as I respect the verdict of the Australian people as expressed in the postal plebiscite.’
Magda Szubanski celebrates on the lawn of Parliament House after the result was handed down
More than 7.8 million Australians – about 62 per cent of voters – gave their support to the reform in a voluntary postal survey
Same sex marriage is a personal issue for Mr Abbott. His sister, Christine Forster, is expected to marry in February.
He has said he is looking forward to his sister’s nuptials to her partner, Virginia Edwards.
Immediately following the bill’s passage, an impassioned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: ‘What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it!’
‘Today we’ve voted for love, for equality. It’s time for more marriages, more love, more respect. This belongs to us all. This is Australia.’
More than 7.8 million Australians – about 62 per cent of voters – gave their support to the reform in a voluntary postal survey.
Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster attended celebrations at Parliament
The historic bill was passed on the final day of parliamentart sitting for 2017. The legislation means same-sex couples will now be able to be legally married in Australia
Australians overwhelmingly voted ‘Yes’ in the marriage law postal survey for the law to be changed in November
Patrons pose under a rainbow flag inside The Stonewall Hotel on Thursday in Sydney to celebrate the historic moment
Patrons raise their glasses to celebrate the passage of the same-sex marriage bill inside the Stonewall Hotel in Sydney
A rainbow flag was brought into the room by a minister who proudly held it aloft as the viewing gallery cheered
Ministers were unable to contain their joy after the decision was handed down to legalise same-sex marriage
‘What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it!’ an impassioned Malcolm Turnbull said immediately following the announcement
The first weddings will be held on January 9, because couples are required to give 30 days advance notice for nuptials under existing laws.
The prime minister had promised to pass the reform into law by Christmas and called on lawmakers to heed the ‘overwhelming’ survey result.
The issue was put to a conscience vote for parliamentarians, meaning politicians could vote as individuals rather than follow the party line.
Some politicians had vowed to vote down the change despite the outcome of the survey, claiming they were representing the 38.4 per cent of Australians who voted No.
However, their objections were vastly overshadowed as only four people chose to vote against same-sex marriage, providing a powerful lasting image for the debate.
Right: The ministers in favour of same-sex marriage. Left: those against. An overwhelming victory for love and a powerful lasting image for the debate
The prime minister had promised to pass the reform into law by Christmas and called on lawmakers to heed the ‘overwhelming’ survey result
Ministers erupted in celebration as the result was handed down, with many shedding tears of joy and embracing
The viewing galleries erupt as the decision to legalise same-sex marriage is handed down
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten immediately took to Twitter to celebrate the result
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek also took to social media, saying ‘love prevailed’
‘Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!’ Turnbull said.
‘And the Parliament has got on with it and we have voted today for a quality, for love, it is time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect, and we respect every Australian who was voted, those who voted yes, and those who voted no, this belongs to us all.’
‘This is Australia! Fair! Diverse in the loving and filled with respect. For everyone of us, this a great day of its belongs to every Australian, the 45th Parliament is doing its job delivering, getting on with it, it is fair, we have done the work, we have done it together. Let’s do it, let’s finalise the deal right now!’
The first weddings are expected to be held in early January, because couples are required to give 30 days advance notice for nuptials under existing laws
‘Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!’ Turnbull said of the postal survey
Same sex marriage including television star Magda Szubanski and Olympic champion Ian Thorpe spent the day at Parliament, rallying on the front lawn and keeping a close eye on proceedings.
Szubanksi celebrated on the law in front of Parliament House following the result, dancing in a circle with friends and supporters.
Attorney General George Brandis confirmed from December 9 same-sex couples can lodge their Notice of Intended Marriage, which is a month-long process.