Silencing of Lambie puts Senate in spinOn 01/31/2019 by admin
The federal government’s job of negotiating laws through the Senate is set to become more complex as Jacqui Lambie edges closer to becoming an independent.
The Tasmanian senator on Wednesday was sacked from her role as the Palmer United Party’s deputy Senate leader and deputy whip, and suspended from attending party meetings.
PUP leader Clive Palmer also revealed that Senator Lambie had not attended the past three party meetings.
“This (ban) will be enforced until such time she gives an undertaking to cease personal attacks on party members and to follow major decisions of the party room,” he said.
Senate Lambie told parliament Mr Palmer had spread rumours about her and caused her personal distress, but she stopped short of announcing her resignation from the party.
“I won’t be told how to vote. Not by anyone,” she said on Wednesday.
“My only boss is the people of Tasmania.”
On Monday Senator Lambie began voting against all government legislation until a Defence force pay offer is improved.
She demonstrated her new-found independence by backing a Labor move to quash the government’s controversial changes to financial advice laws.
This is despite PUP voting with the government earlier in the year.
“We were all trying to find our way. Well, I found my way now,” Senator Lambie told reporters in Canberra.
“Sometimes when you make a wrong you have to go back in there and make it right. And that’s exactly what I’m doing now.”
Her chief of staff Rob Messenger was expelled from the party last week on the grounds of “making false and misleading statements” about PUP senators and Ms Lambie has dropped any reference to the party from her website.
PUP Senate leader Glenn Lazarus said he hoped she would not leave the party and called on her to talk with her colleagues.
“I love Jacqui, I think we get on really well. I’m just a bit bewildered about the fact that she won’t talk to us,” he said.
Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, who has held talks with Senator Lambie about forming a new voting bloc in the upper house, said she was still considering her future with the PUP as the “family fight” continued.
“It may be nothing more than that. But sometimes families break apart and never speak again,” he said.
The government has been banking on getting the support of two crossbenchers plus the four-member PUP voting bloc – including the Motoring Enthusiasts’ Ricky Muir – to get around Labor and the Greens and pass legislation.
But negotiations will be made more difficult if PUP can only deliver the government three votes.
“One less vote makes life hard for us,” a senior Liberal source told AAP.
Liberal senator Ian Macdonald attempted to widen the rift on Wednesday, describing all of the PUP senators as “taking their instructions from an outsider (Mr Palmer) to pursue his own interests”.
Mr Palmer said he hoped Senator Lambie “calms down”.
“In six months she’s been in the Senate, she’s never brought one resolution to the party room in respect to Tasmania or in relation to veterans.”
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the opposition’s decision to seek to overturn the financial sector changes was motivated by “the commercial interests of Labor mates” involved in industry superannuation funds.