Christopher Pyne would do and say anything to advantage himself politically (Image via Dead Parrot Society ‏/ @MyFirstCousin)

Christopher Pyne isn't happy with Labor playing hard-ball over pairings in the new Parliament. Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones laments the minister's appalling memory.

Manager of Government Business Christopher Pyne is not happy with Labor, not happy at all.

On 16 August 2016, the ABC reported:

'The Federal Opposition has rejected a request from the Turnbull Government to allow "pairing" of votes in the new Parliament, adding an extra degree of difficulty for the Government with a one-seat majority.'

Pyne described Labor’s move as "Dickensian" telling ABC Radio:

“Labor is either acting out of a breathtaking ignorance, or a malicious and mendacious approach to the parliament."

But the word "breathtaking" better describes the Coalition’s hypocrisy.

Remember 2010? The start of the 43rd Parliament?

In Ashbygate, the plot to destroy Australia’s Speaker, I wrote:

The 43rd Australian Parliament formally commenced on 29 September 2010. The numbers were tight. The positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker needed to be voted on. Traditionally, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are from opposing political parties, that is, if the Speaker is Labor then the Deputy will be drawn from the ranks of the Coalition.

In the Australian House of Representatives, the Speaker is expected to be impartial and does not vote in ordinary divisions of the House. The Speaker does hold a casting vote if a motion is tied, but effectively the political party to which he or she belongs loses a vote.

During the negotiations for government, both Labor and the Coalition agreed the Speaker would be "paired" so that, because the Speaker couldn't vote, one member from the opposing party would also not vote.

Once Labor claimed government, however, the Coalition alleged the whole deal was unconstitutional and reneged.

Harry Jenkins, the Labor Member for Scullin and the Speaker of the 42nd Parliament, was re-elected Speaker unopposed. That left the government with a nervous one-vote margin.

Coalition strategists saw an opening. If the Deputy Speaker could also be drawn from government ranks, then when the Deputy was standing in for the Speaker that would reduce the margin to nil. The Coalition refused to nominate a candidate for Deputy, hoping to force the government to nominate one of its own. But the plan backfired.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the Coalition, Slipper had been in talks with Labor’s leader in the House, Anthony Albanese. Labor nominated Slipper for Deputy and he accepted. The Coalition was caught off guard and, in an anyone but Slipper mood, was forced to nominate Nationals’ MP Bruce Scott. Slipper won the vote 78 to 71, a tally that included five of the six crossbenchers, Bob Katter among them. Slipper was duly installed as deputy-speaker. The media referred to it as an ambush. Tony Abbott was not happy. 

Now, as then, the Coalition’s mendacity has turned and bitten it on the arse.

Plus ça change.

Ross Jones is the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You may purchase this investigative exposé by clicking on the image below.

You can follow Ross Jones on Twitter @RPZJones.

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