Politics

Australia politics live news: Penny Wong defends Labor on China; Scott Morrison faces growing backbench unrest | Australia news

It’s the first hump day on the last sitting fortnight of the year, which means nothing other than we are all one day closer to this being over.

Which no one seems to want more than the prime minister.

It hasn’t exactly been the greatest of times for Scott Morrison. After launching the pseudo-election campaign, Morrison was hoping to come into parliament and tick off a couple of election promises, clearing the way for the actual election in either March or May next year.

But his own party has other ideas. There is discontent in the backbench, in both the Senate and the house, with the rabble rousers who haven’t exactly been brought into line at any point in the term now realising they have just a few more days to create some havoc, make a name, and get themselves (or members of their factions) re-elected.

So the Senate has gone rogue and now house MPs are threatening the same thing. George Christensen will vote on his “conscience”, whatever that means, and fellow Queenslander Llew O’Brien is once again considering his own options about withholding his vote/crossing the floor. That’s not a new position – O’Brien left the Nationals party room for a while (but stayed in the LNP) and has threatened to cross the floor on issues like the federal Icac. He also accepted Labor’s nomination to be a deputy speaker over the government’s endorsed candidate Damian Drum in 2020, with enough of his colleagues defecting from the vote to get him across the line.

So, like I said, not new. But it is bad timing for the prime minister who spent a good chunk of yesterday’s joint party room meeting talking about discipline and unity.

Meanwhile, the Senate is in disarray, with Gerard Rennick now wanting to re-commit his vote in the Greens-Labor motion to end the ABC complaints Senate inquiry. The motion got up, meaning the inquiry was stopped, at least until the ABC board ordered the inquiry had been completed (some time next year). The bells were rung for the vote, but Rennick didn’t make it into the chamber. He was paired instead, but is now saying he didn’t want to be paired. But he hasn’t explained why he missed the vote. So today, the Senate will consider whether it re-commits the vote, which if it does could overturn the decision to end the inquiry. It’s all a bit of a mess and no one is happy, so all in all it is shaping up as a great day in the parliament.

Mike Bowers is already out and about and you will have Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Daniel Hurst and Sarah Martin keeping you updated. Amy Remeikis will be on the blog until the early evening. There doesn’t seem to be enough coffee this morning.

Ready?

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