Julia Banks was hardly the staunchest supporter of her own government at the best of times. Her public proclamations tended to sound more at home coming from a Labor MP than a Liberal member.
Banks had already announced she was quitting parliament at the election. But on Tuesday, in a gem of political showmanship, she shocked PM Scott Morrison, disclosing that she was shifting to the cross bench.
According to AAP, she told the lower house:
‘Effective immediately, I will serve as a member of this House of Representatives as an independent representative’.
At the time of the announcement, Mr Morrison was revealing the timetable that would lead to the next election, which needs to happen by the end of May next year.
2 April is when we can expect the federal budget, this allows ‘for the election to be held within the legal window for a half-Senate and House of Representatives election which closes on May 18’, reports AAP.
Mr Morrison has also stated that the budget will be in surplus. This reflects a mid-year review that is set to be published on 17 December.
The PM told reporters:
‘It is absolutely our intention to have the budget before the election and to deliver a surplus budget, a surplus budget that we promised to deliver’.
However, he avoided any questions regarding Ms Banks’ switch to the crossbench.
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Why has Julia Banks switched to the crossbench?
Ms Banks has vowed that she won’t vote for no confidence motions in the government, AAP reports.
Kerryn Phelps was sworn in on Monday as the minister for Wentworth, previously held by former PM Malcolm Turnbull. This saw the Morrison government lose their majority in parliament.
However, to ensure that Mr Morrison won’t lose no-confidence motions, he enlisted the help of Queensland independent Bob Katter, who has signed an agreement supporting this deal.
Ms Banks has said that the Liberal Party’s culture needs to change to enlist more women. She said:
‘There’s the blinkered rejection of quotas and support of the merit myth…
‘But this is more than a numbers game.’
The right wing of the Liberal Party was also under Ms Banks’ fire, as she blamed them for the take down of Mr Turnbull when he was PM, stating:
‘Their actions were undeniably for themselves, for their position in the party, their power, their personal ambition, not for the Australian people who we represent’.
For now, Ms Banks’ has said she is keeping her options open concerning her future in politics.
Parliament will finish sitting on Thursday for the week and then Mr Morrison is due to head to Argentina for a G20 summit. He will return for the last sitting of the year.
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