Scott Morrison during Question Time. Picture: Gary Ramage
Scott Morrison during Question Time. Picture: Gary Ramage

No Trump meeting for Morrison at G20

Scott Morrison has embarrassingly been left off the list of world leaders scheduled to meet with Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina later this week, as chaos looms back home amid Julia Banks' defection.

In an insulting move for Australia as one of America's closest allies and an embarrassing oversight for the new Prime Minister, President Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has told reporters he will meet with world leaders from Argentina, Germany, South Korea and Turkey as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Scott Morrison during Question Time. Picture Gary Ramage
Scott Morrison during Question Time. Picture Gary Ramage

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pulled out of the scheduled trip to the G20 world leaders meeting in Buenos Aires overnight after Julia Banks sensationally quit the Liberal Party yesterday.

Prime Minister Morrison will still attend the meeting.

News Corp confirmed this morning Mr Frydenberg would no longer be attending the summit.

His replacement has yet to be announced.

 

US President Donald Trump. Picture: AP
US President Donald Trump. Picture: AP

 

LIBS THREAT RETALIATION OVER DUTTON REFERAL

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is also likely to face a bid to refer him to the High Court in the wake of Ms Banks' defection, in yet another headache for the Morrison Government.

Mr Dutton will face a push to refer him to the High Court before the year is out, with a key crossbench MP this morning declaring the Home Affairs Minister "has a case to answer".

The Morrison government is threatening to retaliate by referring new independent Kerryn Phelps and Labor MPs including Tony Zappia and Anne Aly if the crossbench and Labor team up to try to refer Mr Dutton.

Mr Dutton could face a bid to refer him to the High Court as early as today as Labor negotiates with the crossbench to secure the numbers to back the move.

He will miss parliament this week after needing urgent surgery at the weekend for injuring his arm.

"I think it's quite clear that Peter Dutton has a case to answer," crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie told ABC radio this morning.

She added that the Solicitor General's advice on Mr Dutton's eligibility, considering a potential Section 44 issue over his was stake in a child care centre that receives federal government funding, was "a little unclear".

The government has been left with 73 MPs in the House of Representatives, 74 including Speaker Tony Smith, while there are seven crossbench MPs and 69 Labor MPs.

A bid to suspend standing orders to even call the vote on whether to refer Mr Dutton needs an outright majority of 76 MPs - and unless Bob Katter backs the move or a government MP crosses the floor, it will be unsuccessful.

But if the move to suspend standing orders is successful, the Opposition only needs a majority of 75 to refer Mr Dutton to the High Court.

 

Independent MP Kerryn Phelps in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage

Dr Phelps slammed the government's threat to refer her and others to the High Court in retaliation as "dirty tactics", while Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said it was a "pathetic joke".

"They can make all the threats they like about Dr Phelps or anybody else, Mr Dutton is the one with Constitutional questions to answer, not anybody else," he told Sky News.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton speaks during a press conference. Picture: Getty
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton speaks during a press conference. Picture: Getty

BANKS DID NOT TELL ME: MORRISON

Mr Morrison has confirmed Ms Banks did not tell him before she jumped ship yesterday, saying: "Of course that's disappointing".

Mr Morrison told 2GB radio this morning all Liberal MPs were "disappointed" by her move, but added: "We're not going to stop Bill Shorten by becoming Prime Minister by sitting around and being disappointed."

Sky News reported Ms Banks told some crossbenchers weeks ago she was planning to quit the party.

"I knew enough to be in the chamber yesterday to provide support that I felt that she needed in making such a brave move," independent Kerryn Phelps told Sky this morning.

"I think it's reasonable that somebody in that sort of situation would reach out to people who are in the environment they are seeking to enter for advice and support," Dr Phelps said.

News Corp has contacted Ms Banks for comment.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann downplayed the impact of Ms Banks' departure on the government, which will struggle to pass controversial legislation with only 73 MPs, this morning, saying: "The Morrison Government has been in minority government from day one."

"We continue to get on with the job, building a stronger economy with more jobs and, indeed, getting the budget back into surplus as soon as possible so that funding for all the important essential services Australians expect can be guaranteed over the long term," he told ABC.

He added that he wasn't aware of any incidents of bullying in the Liberal Party, which Ms Banks has highlighted since the leadership spill.

 

The Independents Kerryn Phelps and Cathy McGowan, with Julia Banks enter the chamber for Question Time after she stood in the House of Representatives and resigned as Liberal backbencher. Picture Gary Ramage
The Independents Kerryn Phelps and Cathy McGowan, with Julia Banks enter the chamber for Question Time after she stood in the House of Representatives and resigned as Liberal backbencher. Picture Gary Ramage

GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF SKIPPING WORK

The government is also been accused of skipping work after only scheduling the Parliament to sit for just two weeks before the budget in April next year.

It's the fewest number of days the Parliament has before April since 2011, giving skant time for legislation to be passed before an election in May.

"What this calendar means is that all the way up until August next year, Parliament will have only sat for 10 days," leader of opposition business Tony Burke told ABC radio this morning

"If the government is afraid of having the Parliament sit, you've really got to wonder who's running the country."

Ms Sharkie also savaged the light workload, telling ABC radio: "This is why the Australian community doesn't like politicians. It's that kind of symbolism that we are sending."

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne dismissed the criticism as "a complete storm in a teacup".

"The budget has been brought forward month and that changes the first quarter or so of the year," he said.

"Labor is doing what it usually does, focusing on inside the bubble issues. The public are not in the least bit interested in really how many weeks the parliament sits before the budget."

The government narrowly won a vote - 72 to 71 - yesterday against Labor's attempt to add an extra six sitting dates in March.



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