Politics

Labor, The Greens And Bob Katter Are Calling Bullshit On Turnbull’s Plan To Suspend Parliament

"We will form Parliament, we will appoint a speaker and we will proceed."

This morning the government announced it was taking the highly unusual step of cancelling next week’s parliamentary sitting.

According to the Coalition, the decision to suspend the House of Representatives and delay sittings by a week was made to give the Senate more time to debate marriage equality. But a lot of people (including us) called bullshit on that, and suggested it was more about the government avoiding an embarrassing defeat on the floor of Parliament while two of its MPs fight for re-election at upcoming by-elections.

The move elicited a very strong reaction from some MPs, including Bob Katter, who promised to rock up to Parliament on Monday anyway and act like it was business as usual.

“Parliament will sit on Monday,” Katter shouted at a press conference this morning. “Whether it sits in the garden lawn, or whether it sits in a building, we don’t care. And it will vote. And it will make the laws of the land, because the laws of our country are quite clear. If you have a majority of the parliament then you make the laws.”

Katter’s full press conference is a solid takedown of the government, but it’s also totally unhinged. We strongly recommend watching the full thing:

“I’m sorry Malcolm, you as the king have certain powers, but the power you don’t have is to make laws for this country,” Katter went on to say. “Only a majority of the Parliament can do that. And you do not have a majority.

“Parliament will sit. We will form Parliament, we will appoint a speaker and we will proceed and if the Liberal Party don’t want to be there that is their choice.”

Katter put forward the case for Parliament to sit next week the most thunderously, but he has been joined in his call by Labor, the Greens and a number of other crossbenchers.

Bill Shorten announced this afternoon that Labor MPs would ignore the government’s decision and and fly to Canberra next Monday.

“We will be turning up to work on Monday because the Australian people expect nothing less,” he said. “We all know Turnbull is desperate to avoid Parliament sitting because he does not have Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander.”

Greens MP Adam Bandt also confirmed he would be heading to Canberra on Monday, as did Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie and Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie.

It’s not clear what exactly these MPs will do once they get to Parliament. They probably won’t be able to initiate a formal sitting of the House of Representatives on their own, so it seems like it’s more of a media stunt to highlight the government’s bizarre decision. But we’re pretty into the idea of Labor, the Greens and the crossbench sitting on the laws, as suggested by Bob Katter, holding their own kind of rogue Parliament-in-exile.

It has a real revolutionary vibe to it. Bring it on.