PYNE APOLOGISES

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has said sorry for his now-infamous Cherry Bar comments about marriage equality being closer than everyone thinks. Pyne told local constituents last night that he was sorry the whole issue was a distraction. Yes, a minister has been forced to apologise for saying that a law change that the overwhelming majority of Australians support might be happening sooner rather than later.

The German parliament is preparing to hold a free vote on marriage equality later this week, which -- in other circumstances -- might have pressured Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow a conscience vote here, but the PM emphatically ruled out even allowing a vote on a private members' bill yesterday. That option would have been considered an "accidental" passing of marriage equality without the frontbench having to reneg on the plebiscite policy. If it were allowed to come up for a vote, a couple of backbench Liberal MPs could cross the floor and vote with Labor and some of the crossbench to pass the legislation in the House of Reps.