Bridget Archer says she did not want to meet the Prime Minister immediately after crossing the floor of the Integrity Commission | Australian politics
Liberal backer Bridget Archer says she did not want to be lifted to a meeting with Scott Morrison after crossing the floor to support an independent lawmaker’s integrity commission law.
The prime minister has moved to quell internal riots by speaking to Archer on Thursday afternoon and separately referring the controversial bill on religious discrimination to a joint committee.
Morrison defended the “friendly” meeting with Archer on Friday after she supported a bid from Helen Haines to suspend standing orders to push for a stronger anti-corruption watchdog.
Archer met with Morrison, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and the Secretary of State, Marise Payne, after her bold steps to vote against Coalition was defeated only because a procedural technicality required an absolute majority.
On Friday, Morrison said it was “a very warm, friendly and supportive meeting” and he would not describe it as “honest”.
“Bridget is a close friend and colleague and I wanted to make sure she was supported,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
But Archer told Guardian Australia that although the meeting was friendly, it was a “sincere discussion – not just a pastoral care meeting”.
“I would have preferred not to have the meeting at that time while I was feeling emotional,” she said.
The meeting covered Archers decision to exercise his right to cross the floor on an integrity commission and her views on religious discrimination.
Archer was offered a pair for the last week of parliamentary session, which would have neutralized her ability to support proposals like the one Haines tried, but she declined.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said on Friday that Archer had “stood up for a national integrity commission, which the government says was its own policy”.
“Why is it that Scott Morrison could take action against Bridget Archer, but is silent about George Christensen?” he asked.
Christensen crossed the floor this week to vote against the government’s law on funding trials and is one of several lawmakers and senators who have either reserved the right to cross the floor or withhold their vote from government legislation unless it does more for to combat the Covid-19 vaccine mandates and improve the compensation scheme for adverse events.
With a final meeting week in 2021, the Morrison Government faces revolt over vaccine mandates, territories’ rights to legislate on euthanasia, the Integrity Commission, and religious freedom.
Archer is one of a number of Liberal MPs pushing changes to protect LGBT students and teachers alongside the bill to ban religious discrimination, which gives religious schools hiring and firing powers to maintain their “ethos”.
On Friday, State Attorney Michaelia Cash referred the bill on religious discrimination to the Joint Committee on Human Rights to report by February 4, 2022.
Morrison had proposed that the bill be passed in the lower house early next week before it went to a Senate committee. But on Thursday, Labor defeated the government’s attempt to set up a Senate inquiry to be reported before February.
The government’s plan now is not to put the bill to a vote in the lower house next week, but instead wait for the inquiry to report.
Labor and Liberal moderates, including Trent Zimmerman, believe the bill is better addressed by a joint committee that allows lawmakers and senators to provide input and can improve the chances of bipartisan support.
Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg told Guardian Australia that it was “important” that stakeholders come forward with submissions to the study with “drafts to address the problems of teachers and students”.
“What it will show is that we can fix it all at once,” he said.
The Joint Human Rights Committee chosen by Cash as the forum for the inquiry is chaired by National MP Anne Webster and co-chair of Labor’s Graham Perrett.
Although the committee recently lined up with the government over its proposal for voter identification, it is considered a relatively friendly forum for the bill on religious discrimination because many of the liberal moderates who are most vocal about the need to prevent discrimination on other grounds – such as Zimmerman, Bragg, Fiona Martin and Dave Sharma – are not in favor. that.
Guardian Australia understands that Labor did not agree with the referral and lobbies for a joint committee – which would allow any MP or senator to contribute to an inquiry and a longer reporting period.
On Friday, Labor senators challenged Cash at the Senate’s estimates to commit to enacting the coalition’s National Integrity Commission Act this year. Cash said it was a “decision for the government”.
The shadow lawyer, Mark Dreyfus, said Australia needed “a powerful and independent anti-corruption commission”, and he accused the Morrison government of doing “everything in their power to stop it”.
Financial Services Minister Jane Hume told Sky News that it was still the government’s “intention” to introduce the integrity commission bill this year.