Thanks To Peter Dutton The Government Lost Its Majority In Parliament Tonight

How's that working majority going for you, Malcolm?

Peter Dutton

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Turns out that when you’re a government with a tenuous one-seat majority, you kinda need all your MPs to actually show up for work. Sticking to their promise to test the government’s so-called working majority, Labor today managed to briefly gain control of the House of Representatives after a number of senior Coalition ministers, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, decided to take the afternoon off.

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Determined to push through their motion on a royal commission into banking practices, Shorten and co. pulled a fast one on the government, voting against Parliament adjourning at its normal time of 4:30pm. With Dutton, along with Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Social Services Minister Christian Porter, all absent from the chamber, Labor was then able to win a number of votes to bring their motion forward. Dutton and Porter eventually scurried back in and were able to tie up the final vote at 71-71 – although not before a whole bunch of MPs had missed their flights home.

According to the opposition, this is the first time in more than five decades that a majority government has lost a vote on the floor of the House. So yeah, not exactly a great start. Treasurer Scott Morrison condemned Labor’s tactics as a “stunt”, while Shorten vowed to “never give up on this royal commission.”

On top of being highly embarrassing for the government, this whole glorious clusterfuck drives home just how difficult life is going to be for the Coalition going forward. “Malcolm Turnbull told Australians he had a ‘very solid working majority’,” Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It took just two sitting days for this stable majority to collapse.”

Things were wrapped up around 7pm after the government managed to (just barely) win a motion that the debate be adjourned. Parliament sits again on September 12. Let’s just hope everyone remembers to rock up on time.