Anthony Albanese’s lieutenants defend decision that enraged independents and could derail government
Two of Anthony Albanese’s top ministers have defended Labour’s cuts to independent and minor party MPs as ‘common sense’.
The prime minister sent a letter Friday telling the 16 MPs involved and 18 crossbench senators that their number of advisers was being reduced from four to one.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he was surprised by the number of staff cross-benchers, while Education Secretary Jason Clare said the decision was “pretty fair”.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair for a MP in the back seat of an electorate to get twice as many staff as a MP in the back seat in the next electorate,” Mr Chalmers told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.
But the move was rejected by cross-benchers, including Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, Sydney MP Sophie Scamps and new ACT Senator David Pocock, who said it could derail the government’s legislative agenda.
Jacqui Lambie (pictured) said she was smoking with Anthony Albanese about staff cuts for cross-benchers like her
Labor has 26 senators and needs 39 votes to get bills through the 76-member Senate.
That means it will need the support of 13 cross-benchers to pass legislation not supported by the coalition.
Ms Lambie said she had “futs” with Mr Albanian and that his decision could make her more likely to vote against government laws.
‘If we can’t go through the legislation (with advisers), how can we vote on it? I’m not voting for something I can’t get through,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald†
Ms Scamps, who represents Mackellar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, said the staff cuts will “present a huge challenge for the crossbench to do effectively the work we need to do in the Federal Parliament”.
She, along with the other cross-benchers, will still have four electoral staffs in addition to one adviser.
Mr Pocock, a former rugby international, described the move as a “hypocritical…political decision” that “disappoints” his ACT voters.
“Being accessible, deliberating widely, challenging parliament to do better and making politics about people, that’s what I want to do and I need a great team for that,” he wrote on Twitter.
New ACT Senator David Pocock (left) is pictured with his wife Emma. Mr Pocock said a lack of staff will diminish his ability to keep an eye on the government
David Pocock expressed his displeasure with the Albanian government in a series of tweets on Saturday (pictured).
†[Mr Albanese’s] decision is hypocritical and a double standard that actively penalizes community-backed independents while preserving the status quo for the major parties.”
Mr Pocock, the ACT’s first independent senator, said the lack of staff would diminish his ability to keep an eye on the government.
“In consultation with my fellow cross-benchers in the Senate, we have shared our concerns about voting on legislation for which we do not have the resources to adequately investigate or ensure its integrity,” he said.
But Mr Clare said the previous staff allocation was too high.
“If you’re a Labor MP or a Liberal MP or a National MP you get four staff members, and if you’re a Green or a crossbench MP you get eight, that seems a bit crazy to me,” he said. to Sky News.
New Mackellar MPSophie Scamps (pictured) said staff cuts will be ‘a huge challenge for the crossbench’
“What Albo is saying here is that if you’re a crossbench MP, you’ll get an extra staffer beyond what a Labor or Liberal or… a Nat MP gets and we’ll put extra resources into the Parliamentary Library.” .
“That seems pretty fair to me.”
Three of the 12 MPs in the House of Commons – Rebekha Sharkie, Helen Haines and Bob Katter – are getting two advisers due to the sheer size of their electorate in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland respectively.
Reducing the MP’s allotment from 48 to 15 will lower the annual payroll from an estimated $6,785,856 to $2,120,580 per year.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers (pictured left) has defended Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (right) by cutting the number of advisers allowed to help MPs and Senators
But the previous assignment of four cross-bencher advisors each was a relatively recent addition.
In 2010, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard assigned one adviser each to independent MPs. That was raised to three by Malcolm Turnbull and four by Scott Morrison.
Labor also cuts $1.5 million in “extra paychecks” for government employees.
Mr Clare said the cut in the allotment of advisers to the bank is not stopping people from becoming MPs or Senators.
“People come to this job not for the pay, but for the opportunity it offers to really make a difference,” he said.
“So everyone has a haircut here.”