The government almost loses the vote on the Federal Corruption Commission after the MP crosses the floor

The coalition has narrowly avoided embarrassment in parliament and managed to stop a cross-cutting attempt to create debate on a national anti-corruption commission.

Independent MP Helen Haines tried to interrupt the usual business to force a debate on her law on her Federal Integrity Commission, claiming that the coalition had dragged its feet for three years and had not introduced its own model.

Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer broke out of government and supported Dr. Haines’ proposal, which was supported by Labor and other crossbenchers.

The vote resulted in a vote of 66 MPs for the proposal and 64 against – but a COVID-19 technique meant that the proposal was not adopted.

It took an absolute majority – or 76 votes – to get through, but with a number of MPs not in parliament due to COVID restrictions, it was a bigger task than usual.

After a number of minutes of finding out if the government had actually lost the vote, independent MP Bob Katter said what many MPs thought: “It is clear that many of us are very confused.”

It took a few more minutes and another vote to confirm that Dr. Haines’ proposal did not succeed, despite having several votes.

Helen Haines, wearing a mustard yellow top, speaks in the House of Representatives
Independent MP Helen Haines tried to interrupt the case to start a debate on her federal ICAC law. (ABC News: Tamara Penniket)

Before the vote, Mrs Archer had traveled to the second Dr. Haine’s proposal, saying it was a difficult decision to break out of government ranks to get the debate going.

“Everyone in this House, I think without exception, believes that we need a robust Federal Integrity Commission, that people should have confidence and trust in us, in the people they elect, the people they send here,” she said. .

“The problem is that politics have packed it so tightly that we are not moving forward.

Even before the vote, Dr. Haines that her bill had been described as a “gold standard”.

“These are not my words, these are the words from the best legal minds in the nation, from former High Court judges to leading academics,” she said.

“They are all in favor of the adoption of this bill right now.

“This is a bill from the people, from the people.”

Helen Haines, wearing a mustard yellow shirt, walks out of the chamber with her arm around Bridget Archer
Dr. Haines and Mrs Archer left the Chamber together after the vote.(ABC News: Tamara Penniket)

South Australian crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie challenged other members of the coalition to join Mrs Archer.

“I would urge members of government if you too have the courage as a member for bass, and many of you have quietly told many of us across the board that you do, why not put your action where your words is?” she said.

“Come and sit on the right side of the story.”

The government also defeated a similar attempt in the Senate earlier this week when the Greens and Labor tried to kick-start the debate on a national integrity commission.

The coalition announced in 2018 its plan to set up an integrity commission, but it has not presented the proposal to parliament.

Its model has been sharply criticized by leading lawyers as “no teeth”.

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