Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has predicted parliament will get “messy and ugly” this week as the government attempts to push through changes to the Senate’s voting system.
In the final sitting week before the budget is presented in May, the Coalition will have the tough task of pushing through the changes with opposition from crossbenchers attempting to delay it.
“In any event it’s going to be an extraordinarily messy and ugly week in the Senate — much messier and uglier than we’re used to,” Mr Xenophon said.
“And I think we’ll see every procedural rule in the book being used by all sides to try and get what they want.”
Meanwhile, the Senate crossbench is angered at the Coalition and Greens for collaborating on the changes to voting, and is likely to push for debate on a bill to restore the building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Victorian Senator Ricky Muir indicated he would introduce the bill, with support from independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, who said “bring on debate about the ABCC”.
Labor has accused the government of pushing through the voting changes in order to call a double dissolution election in July, while the Coalition has accused crossbenchers of rushing through the ABCC legislation for their personal agendas.
“It’s not about the ABCC, it’s not about principle, it’s about trying to save their jobs,” Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi said.
But, Family First Senator Bob Day said Australia’s problem with an archaic workplace regulation was recognised by economists globally, particularly “what happens on Australia’s building sites”.
Complicating matters further is a plan by Liberal Senator David Leyonhjelm to force the government to choose between its deal with the Greens and a vote on gay marriage.
The Senator is expected to try and introduce a debate on a same-sex marriage bill, in a move that has upset the Greens.
Greens Senator Richard DiNatale called the move “disappointing” and a “tactic to try and derail support for what is an important and democratic reform”.
Parliament will resume for its final week on Tuesday.