Australia politics live update: Morrison faces growing backbench resistance; poll boost for Labor | Australia news


Welcome back to Politics Live.

Seven days to go in this parliamentary sitting year and Coalition backbenchers have decided now is the time to make a stand.

After five government senators crossed the floor yesterday to be the only five to vote on a Pauline Hanson-sponsored anti-vaccine mandate bill (Hanson is in Queensland and was unable to vote on her own bill) perennial “don’t make me do it” George Christensen is once again threatening to withhold his vote in the lower house.

Christensen, who will retire from federal politics at the next election, last threatened to go rogue in 2017, writing a letter to then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who had just lost his majority in the lower house. Back then, Christensen wanted a banking royal commission and a return of penalty rates.

This time around Christensen wants state vaccine mandates overturned. Scott Morrison, who has been walking both sides of the line on the issue lately, yesterday reaffirmed his support for vaccine mandates for health and aged care workers (which the federal government requires).

But Christensen is not a fan. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Queensland LNP backbencher spoke at the conservative Cpac love-in yesterday, and had a go at the state LNP leader for not being strong enough on Queensland’s pandemic restrictions (even though criticising Queensland’s pandemic restrictions helped the LNP lose the last state election, and strengthened Labor’s numbers in the state parliament).

Christensen said:

Where’s David Crisafulli on these pandemic restrictions?

If I was the leader of the opposition I would have been on the stage [on Saturday] supporting all of these people who are protesting.

It’s great we’ve had ScoMo come out just this week saying that governments need to back off and we need our freedoms back. That should have been said long ago. But that’s being said now, that’s great it needs to be followed up with action … so people don’t go and vote for these minor parties.

Christensen also agreed that there needed to be more conservatives in the party and less “ball-less dicks” being preselected:

There needs to be more of us so those other types don’t get in.

So that was yesterday. And today, he’s threatening to withhold his vote, which given the numbers in the house, is not the news Morrison would want as he tries to do … something to rescue this last parliamentary sitting of the year.

The PM managed to create another own goal yesterday over his own relationship with the truth, and today the latest Guardian Essential poll has Labor ahead on managing the economy, the issue the Coalition hopes to make the next election about:

The party room meeting should be fun!

You have Mike Bowers with you, as well as the Guardian Canberra team of Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Sarah Martin and Paul Karp. Amy Remeikis will be with you on the blog until late afternoon.

It’s shaping up as a four-coffee morning.


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