It was an interesting spectacle at Midsumma’s LGBTI Pride March in Melbourne on Sunday. Up until yesterday morning, the Liberals were set to be far back in the order for the march, somewhere around the 144th spot in the parade. Miraculously however, the Liberals were suddenly moved up to spot No. 3, coinciding with a rumour spread on the ground that the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was set to make an appearance and march in the parade.
Despite Turnbull’s office insisting before the event that he wouldn’t be there, the rumour persisted. At one point a journalist even told Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during his press conference at the parade that the Prime Minister was there. From the transcript:
“JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Prime Minister has answered your call and just rocked up.
SHORTEN: Well there you go, that’s fantastic, good-o and lets have the vote this week, this month — let’s not spend $160 million of taxpayers’ money. Let’s actually let the MPs get on and do their day job.”
Given the increasing divide in his party over the issue of holding an expensive plebiscite on same-sex marriage, it is not that surprising that Turnbull was nowhere to be seen. Liberals, including Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, did end up marching third in the parade behind two groups including Shorten, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt.