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I think the coalition will move to a roll call system after an interesting moment occurred in parliament on Thursday. It involved a school, a fruit bat problem and an environment bill.

Having had an opportunity to live stream the circus on Thursday morning, I was keen to see how this would be reported. Not because of the politics about the issue, but what I found to be an interesting moment and gives us an insight to the turmoil behind Coalition closed doors.

Of course my favourite one eyed publication reported it a win for the coalition.

FRUITBATS had their day in federal parliament yesterday. Dingbats too, the government might claim.

Nationals deputy leader Luke Hartsuyker successfully moved the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (Public Health and Safety) Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives, a piece of legislation that will force the government to approve the relocation of a colony of flying foxes on the NSW north coast that is menacing a local school — if it also gains Senate support.

Greens MP Adam Bandt and independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie sided with the government to block the bill (the government says it will move the bats at some stage without legislative compulsion), but the independently minded West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook, along with Bob Katter and Tony Windsor, voted with the Coalition to pass the measure by 71 votes to 70.

Sounds like a great win for the coalition does it not! Well, as I said, I had a chance to actually see the procedure. The coalition called the bill, a division was called, both sides promptly stood up to change sides (what the fuck is that all about) for 4 minutes, a vote was taken, the ballots counted and the result was 71 coalition 71 ALP.

Under the rules of the house, Harry got to have a vote and he voted with the Coalition so they can get another shot at passing the bill.

That is what happened. At least the first time.

You see the coalition had made a critical error. One that is fundamental in nature. An error that on any day in politics is bad enough, but in the current state of parliament one that is a hanging offence.

What had happened is the coalition had a sick Nat MP and had not included them in their first run of the numbers! Astounding!

But what followed was stranger still. An ALP MP passed a motion to let the opposition have a recount on the vote.  Under the rules they had agreed to he argued, the bill would have been passed if a pair was counted for the sick MP. The motion was carried and the whole swap side thing happened again followed by a count, this time 71 Coalition, 70 ALP.

Now maybe I’ve read too much into this but it struck me as yet another sign of a party under pressure when you forget to work out the numbers in a hung parliament.

No one seems to be commenting on it. Perhaps it was just a mistake. Must have been just coincidence it occurred in the same week as a whole string of other mistakes from the coalition.


The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the question—

That the bill be now read a second time—

Question—put. The House divided (the Speaker, Mr Jenkins, in the Chair)—

AYES, 71

Mr Abbott Mr Fletcher Mr Macfarlane Mr Scott Mr Alexander Mr Frydenberg Ms Marino Mr Secker* Mr K. J. Andrews Ms Gambaro Mrs Markus Mr Simpkins Mrs K. L. Andrews Mrs Gash Mr Matheson Mr Slipper Mr Baldwin Mrs Griggs Mrs Mirabella Mr A. D. H. Smith Mr Billson Mr Haase Mr Morrison Mr Somlyay Mrs B. K. Bishop Mr Hartsuyker Mrs Moylan Dr Southcott Ms J. I. Bishop Mr A. G. Hawke Mr Neville Dr Stone Mr Broadbent Mr Hunt Mr O’Dowd Mr Tehan Mr Buchholz Mr Irons Ms O’Dwyer Mr Truss Mr Chester Dr Jensen Mrs Prentice Mr Tudge Mr Christensen Mr E. T. Jones Mr Pyne Mr Turnbull Mr Ciobo Mr Katter Mr Ramsey Mr van Manen Mr Cobb Mr Keenan Mr Randall Mr Vasta Mr Coulton* Mr C. Kelly Mr Robb Dr Washer Mr Crook Mr Laming Mr Robert Mr Windsor Mr Dutton Ms Ley Wyatt Roy Mr Wyatt Mr Entsch Mr McCormack Mr Ruddock  No. 22—10

February 2011 P299

NOES, 71

Mr Adams Mr Dreyfus Dr M. J. Kelly Ms Plibersek Mr Albanese Mrs Elliot Ms King Mr Ripoll Mr Bandt Ms Ellis Dr Leigh Ms Rishworth Ms Bird Dr Emerson Ms Livermore Ms Rowland Mr Bradbury Mr L. D. T. Ferguson Mr Lyons Mr Rudd Ms Brodtmann Mr M. J. Ferguson Mr McClelland Ms Saffin Ms A. E. Burke Mr Fitzgibbon Ms Macklin Mr Shorten Mr A. S. Burke Mr Garrett Mr Marles Mr Sidebottom Mr Butler Mr Georganas Mr Melham Ms Smyth Mr Byrne Mr Gibbons Mr Mitchell Mr Snowdon Mr Champion Ms Gillard Mr Murphy Mr Swan Mr Cheeseman Mr Gray Mr Neumann Mr Symon Mr Clare Ms Grierson Mr Oakeshott Mr C. R. Thomson Ms Collins Mr Griffin Mr O’Connor Mr K. J. Thomson Mr Combet Ms Hall* Ms O’Neill Ms Vamvakinou Mr Crean Mr Hayes* Ms Owens Mr Wilkie Mr Danby Mr Husic Ms Parke Mr Zappia Mrs D’Ath Mr S. P. Jones Mr Perrett  * Tellers


Mr S. F. Smith Mr Briggs

Ms Roxon Mr Schultz

Mr Bowen Mr Hockey

The numbers for the “Ayes” and the “Noes” being equal, the Speaker gave his casting vote with the “Ayes” so that discussion could continue. And so it was resolved in the affirmative—bill read a second time.

Leave granted for third reading to be moved immediately. Mr Hartsuyker moved—

That the bill be now read a third time. Debate ensued. Mr Albanese (Leader of the House) moved—

That in accordance with standing order 132, standing and sessional orders be suspended to enable the House to divide again on the question viz.:

That the bill be now read a second time. Debate ensued.

Question—put and passed.

Question—That the bill be now read a second time—put. The House divided (the Speaker, Mr Jenkins, in the Chair)— (pages 297 – 300)


One other point. You may think I am making a mountain out of a molehill here. Maybe. But if you look at Hansard that day, the vote conducted just before this one also failed to include a pair for the sick Nat MP as the coalition had not included him there either.

Further, the opposition may have got a bill in, but they needed the governments support and the speaker to actually do so. It struck me that the coalition had a lot on their mind. It also struck me that the ALP was wanting this bill to be passed.



A. Ghebranious  2011    (All Rights Reserved)

  1. Jennifer Baratta permalink

    Government in action does not always go with the people.

  2. Mobius Ecko permalink

    Not the first time the Coalition have miscounted either or forgot an important vote on something was on so had an important player or players not turn up. Abbott only in the nick of time once rushed into parliament in gym outfit, white tee and black shorts, straight from a gym session because he forgot an important motion, one he proposed, was being voted on. He voted from the back of the chamber by the entrance door.

    Now you tell me if this mob deserve to govern.

  3. Catching up permalink

    I pine for another with the ability of Fred Daley. Also one that has his wit. Parliament is such a soulless and boring place today. All take themselves too seriously.

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