The debate about the Speaker is still going on. The Opposition is being painted by the Government as reneging on a deal. The opposition claims that there are constitutional issues. For an example of one story, see here.
Unsurprisingly, the Government has suggested that they would put forward a speaker from their side with pairing. As noted in the previous blog, this is hugely beneficial to the Government. The opposition is opposing pairing – which makes sense unless they had the Speaker. So the alterntives without pairing are:
- The government puts up the Speaker without pairing. This leaves them with 73 votes (versus 74 for the Coalition) plus the two conservative independents. It places the coalition in a strong position – they only need one of the independents to defeat any legislation. So this option probably makes the parliament unworkable.
- The opposition puts up the Speaker without pairing. This gives the government more control of the House of Representatives (74 to 73) but makes for a more stable parliament and the opposition have the ‘second prize’ of controlling proceedings (as Sam noted in his earlier comment).
So what should the opposition be doing? They could offer to accept pairing so long as they appoint the Speaker. But they appear to have moved past this at present, despite it being the best outcome for the opposition. If there is no pairing, then the opposition can either try and force the government to appoint a speaker or appoint one themselves. This really depends on how soon the Coalition want another election and how much bad publicity they think they will get from being obstructionist. A Labor Speaker with no pairing means a new election sooner rather than later.
Of course the worst outcome for the Coalition (and the best for the Government) is if the opposition backs down, allows pairing and get a Labor Speaker. But this could still happen.