A Balance of Power Government, also known as a hung parliament or minority government means the Prime Minister and Government will lose the vote from time to time.
In passing the reforms to the standing orders and question time in parliament house, the Labor Government did not wish to have the standing orders suspended to debate the merits of whether a vote on motions (including legislation) should be redone because a vote was accidentally missed by members of either side(e.g. toilet break).
The Opposition disagreed and proposed an amendment that did exactly that. After all, any number of members could slip out to attend to some political business and actually claim to have been on the throne. It seems to me fair enough to have a discussion on whether the vote should be redone (recommitted) though 25 minutes to discuss whether someone was on the crapper or not seems a bit long.
Now remember Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, two key Independents basically chose Labor to form Government, and their third Bob Katter preferred the coalition but when it came down to the voting on this amendment, Katter sided with Labor and Oakeshott and Windsor with the Coalition.
This has been oddly reported by some media outlets, the Fairfax Papers said:
The Coalition moved the amendment successfully with the support of two of the six independents who sided with Labor following the election.
Both Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott supported the amendment.
West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook, who has opted to sit on the crossbenches, also voted with the Coalition.
Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt voted with Labor as did independent Andrew Wilkie.
Oddly omitting any mention of key Independent Bob Katter. Is that just because he supported the Coalition?
The News Ltd Papers stated:
Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, who put Labor in power, stayed true to their word to decide every vote on its merits by siding with the Coalition for the ballot about new parliamentary rules.
Ironically Bob Katter backed Labor.
Again oddly reported in assuming that the Coalition’s amendments were merit based and because of that Katter behaved “ironically” because he backed the Coalition to form a minority Government.
Dear Media Pack, it is not that simple, these Independents were not elected to support either Labor or the Coalition on every single vote as both these papers would indicate by their omission and use of irony in their respective articles. The Independents were elected to be exactly that Independent, they will not always agree with each other and that’s how they will behave – independently.
At the end of the day the amendment was passed 73-72 and my first thought were where were the other five. That is now easy, Labor’s Crean was at the Press Club and Labor’s Plibersek is near to term with child and were both paired – so that’s four accounted for but where’s the fifth? In the speaker’s chair of course.
So to those trumpeting about the Government losing a vote in the House for the first time in over 60 years, who really gives a fig?