This was the moment that the Member for Dobell, Craig Thomson sent the Tories fleeing from the House.
Barely had the clock ticked past 9am when Thomson voted with the Tories and in one move completely negated the idea of a “tainted” vote that the Opposition had been squawking about for weeks.
In a debate about debt, the government moved to end debate, and Craig Thomson made his way to join the others from the crossbenchers who don’t support gag motions. Thomson had always continued to vote with Labor since he moved to the crossbench, but not this time.
The reaction from the Opposition side of the chamber was almost as if someone had shouted “boat person”, and Tony Abbott and Chrissy Pyne, the manager of opposition business, made a break for the doors.
While the Leader of Opposition running to the doors to avoid voting is fun to watch, it doesn’t say much for the man who thinks he should be the Australian Prime Minister.
Abbott was ordered back by Anna Burke, the Speaker, because Tony was just too slow.
However, Chrissy “I was as fast as a gazelle” Pyne made it out, which from a purely numbers point of view, negated Mr Thomson’s vote. Politically, it sent a message to the Tories.
Joe Hockey was ranting and raving at the Speaker, about just who was exactly where when the bells were rung and the doors were locked.
Once more Labor tried to gag the motion from the Coalition to debate debt and Craig Thomson voted again with the Tories. Pyne returned to the house while Tony sat in his office and… sulked perhaps.
Craig Thomson taunted cowardly Opposition Leader telling Abbott that “if he is truly negating my vote” he should cross the floor and sit on the Labor side.
Twice more Thomson voted with the Coalition, when a gag was called for a third and fourth time.
Tony Abbott had been crying for weeks that the government should refuse to accept Thomson’s vote, and there Thomson was, four times taking his “tainted” voted and sitting with the Opposition.
Abbott said to media during this that ALP should refuse Thomson’s vote the same way that Howard’s government refused the turncoat Mal Colstan’s vote. However Colstan voted for the sale of government assets, with the Telstra privatisation bill. So much for not accepting tainted votes.
Paul Bongiorno, ch 10’s national affairs editor said “It is no longer “merely hyperthetical” that Craig Thomson would ever vote with the coalition. Run Tony Run.”
This was a shameful display from the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for Sturt, who both refused to adequately represent their electorate on a vote. Shameful politics. Shameful from the Tories to refuse to even participate in the democratic process.
Thomson denied his actions were a stunt, and accused the Tory Opposition of pulling stunts with motions to suspend standing orders.
One more thing, the issue of debt is a side show. As the Tea Party backed republicans showed in the USA last year, the issue of debt ceiling can bring a government to its knees.