Informer: Different day, same old political divides

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith received a standing ovation during question time on Monday. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith received a standing ovation during question time on Monday. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Between COVID lockdowns, the vaccine 'strollout', the NSW Premier resigning and the not-so-clear Net-Zero by 2050 plan - there is no doubt that 2021 has been a downright messy year of politics in Australia.

And with just a few weeks to go before parliament shuts up shop for the year, the political landslide shows no sign of slowing down.

One man who has gotten out just in time to beat the Christmas rush is former Speaker of the House Tony Smith.

Smith formally stepped down today with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese in rare agreement that he would be missed as speaker.

Morrison said Smith was "the finest Speaker that this Parliament has had the great opportunity to witness in action."

That may well be true, and the man also has exceptional timing given the last sitting fortnight of parliament is bound to be a busy one.

Queensland Coalition MP Andrew Wallace will step into the Speaker role after he was elected today.

Good luck Mr Wallace - I think you'll need it.

Especially with the PM's trip to Hawaii during the Black Summer fires of 2019/20 back in headlines.

But it's not just Scott Morrison coping flack from the opposition.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Defence Minister Peter Dutton was deliberately stoking conflict with China in "the most dangerous election tactic in Australian history".

Wong has accused Dutton of exploiting national security for electoral gains.

"Amping up the prospect of war against a superpower is the most dangerous election tactic in Australian history," she will say.

"A tactic employed by irresponsible politicians who are desperate to hang on to power at any cost."

And the Coalition is experiencing some division among its own ranks as well.

Yesterday Pauline Hanson's One Nation party submitted it's draft vaccination discrimination Bill to the Senate - which was rejected (and if you missed Jacquie Lambie's speech about the proposed Bill, check it out here).

However, five Coalition MPs crossed the Senate floor to vote in favour of the bill.

Queensland MP George Christensen has also threatened to withhold his vote in the federal government's lower house over vaccine mandates.

"Until federal action is taken against vaccine discrimination, I will be voting according to my conscience, or abstaining from votes... rather than just voting with the government as MPs usually do," he said in a statement.

He's the first MP in the lower house to make this threat.

As my esteemed colleague at the Canberra Times stated, "a notable split in the government is there for all to see".

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