The Australian claims that Labor suffered an “embarrassing defeat” yesterday in the House of Representatives.
An amendment to standing orders, which enables members to speak to a motion to recommit a vote when a member has been unavoidably absent was ironically won by the Coalition when Tanya Plibersek, who is pregnant and close to term, didn’t vote. Christopher Pyne explained that debating such motions would enable the House to determine whether members had a serious reason for not voting.
By contrast, it was reported neutrally in the Fairfax press.
But, speaking of Fairfax, an otherwise informative article by Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald makes the mistake of calculating the possible numbers given the lack of a pairing arrangement for the Speaker as if Bob Katter were permanently in the Opposition camp. He’s not: he’s been voting with Labor quite a bit. It seems difficult for some journos to grasp the full implications of the fact that cross-bench MPs have not effectively signed up to one side or other by virtue of agreeing to vote a certain way on confidence and supply.
In any case, Katter made it quite clear that he would be inclined to support the government’s continuance. His preference for Tony Abbott to form a government was on the basis of the specific offer on his electorate’s concerns, not some sort of defacto return to the Coalition ranks.
Similarly, most articles on the first Question Time expressed some sort of cynical surprise that political points were still being scored. I don’t think anyone seriously expected that a more consultative and deliberative Parliament would see politics abolished. Yet that’s the frame applied.
Elsewhere: Tim Dunlop.
Update: A correction. The Fairfax story was based on misreporting by AAP I’m informed. Plibersek was paired as was Crean.