The significance of federal Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer crossing the floor to vote in favour of a motion calling for a debate over the proposed establishment of a national anti-corruption commission cannot be understated.
Independent MP Helen Haines' attempt to force a debate on her integrity commission bill secured 66 votes, with 64 against, but due to a pandemic-related technicality, an absolute majority of 76 votes would have been required for the motion to pass.
But by Ms Archer opting not to tow the party line and to instead align herself with the opposition and crossbenchers including the Greens' Adam Bandt and independent MPs Craig Kelly, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie has sent a powerful message about her own integrity.
Scott Morrison has defended his government's decision to block debate on Dr Haines' proposed integrity commission bill, disingenuously pointing to Gladys Berejiklian having been "done over" by NSW ICAC as justification.
Putting aside the fact that the findings of that inquiry are yet to be handed down, the government's steadfast refusal to allow debate on this integrity commission bill, or to have come up with an alternative model since Mr Morrison took over the leadership, raises questions about what the government might be trying to hide.
It would also allow Labor to frame the election around trust, and with questions remaining over everything from the so-called sports rorts scandal to Christian Porter's blind trust, not to mention the prime minister's personal integrity having been repeatedly called into question in recent weeks, it wouldn't seem like a prudent move.
Ms Archer's electorate of Bass is the LNP's most marginal seat, and is currently held by a paper-thin margin of 0.4 per cent. Detractors will no doubt point to that statistic - and her desire to retain the seat - as her primary motivation for crossing the floor.
But as Dr Haines posited yesterday, perhaps Ms Archer "walked across the aisle to make sure that her constituents knew - that the nation knew - that she stands for accountability, transparency, decency and honour in parliament".
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