Scott Morrison called rogue Liberal MP Bridget Archer into a meeting after she voted against the Government to support a corruption watchdog.
According to Sky News Australia, the meeting was ‘frank exchange’ in which Mr Morrison demanded to know ‘what the problem was’.
Minister for Women Marise Payne and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who was earlier seen talking to Ms Archer on the floor of Parliament after her controversial decision, also attended the meeting.
Scott Morrison called rogue Liberal MP Bridget Archer (left talking to Josh Frydenberg) into a meeting after she voted against the Government to support a corruption watchdog
Scott Morrison and Bridget Archer at a press conference in Launceston, Tasmania in May 2019
The Prime Minister said he would not describe the meeting as frank and instead called it ‘warm, friendly and supportive’.
He called Ms Archer a ‘very dear friend’ and said he knows ‘how strongly she feels’ about an integrity commission.
‘Bridget and I are close colleagues and we have, we have a very good friendship. And I was pleased to be there with Senator Payne and Josh Frydenberg and to be there to support Bridget,’ he told reporters in Adelaide.
Ms Archer, who represents the marginal Tasmanian seat of Bass, crossed the floor and supported independent MP Helen Haines who wants a debate on her integrity commission bill.
Bridget Archer was ‘consoled’ by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg after her decision to against the government because Scott Morrison has taken too long to deliver on his promise of creating a corruption watchdog
Independent member for Indi Helen Haines and Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer leave the chamber together after the vote
Ms Archer, who represents the marginal Tasmanian seat of Bass, supported independent MP Helen Haines who wants a debate on her integrity commission bill
She said it was a ‘difficult’ decision to go against her own party and the Prime Minister
Ms Archer said it was a ‘difficult decision’ to vote against Scott Morrison but said he has taken too long to introduce a corruption watchdog which he promised in 2018.
‘I don’t take this decision lightly at all. I take this decision very seriously to stand here. And it’s a difficult decision. This is one of the most important things that we come to this place to do,’ she said.
‘There is a place for politics, there’s a place for the partisan point-scoring, but on something as important as trust and confidence in elected officials, that is not it.’
Ms Archer’s seat of Bass is the Liberals’ most precarious seat, held with a margin of just 0.41 per cent.
Earlier this week Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie – who also wants a federal corruption watchdog – said the Liberals would lose their two marginal seats in the state over the issue.
Ms Haines was also supported by the Opposition, Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Craig Kelly, Bob Katter, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie.
Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer (centre) speaks to crossbench MPs Helen Haines (right), Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie after crossing the floor
Ms Archer speaks to Crossbench MPs Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie
Ms Archer chatted to Ms Haines as she crossed the floor to vote against the Government
Together they defeated the Government by 66 votes to 64 but debate did not continue because an absolute majority of 76 votes, required for procedural motions, was not reached.
Ms Haines described Ms Archer as a ‘hero’ and a ‘lioness’.
‘Bridget Archer is a true Liberal. Bridget Archer today walked across the aisle for the single most important thing that any parliamentarian could do. She walked across the aisle to vote for integrity in this parliament,’ she said.
‘She walked across the aisle to make sure that her constituents knew that, that the nation knew, that she stands for accountability, transparency, decency and honour in parliament. She truly is a hero.’
Ms Haines slammed the ‘technicality’ which meant her bill could not be debated.
‘We were prevented by an undemocratic technicality. The prime minister and the government are standing in the way now of not only the will of the people but the will of the parliament,’ she said.
‘This is an extraordinary moment, I think, in the history of the House of Representatives. That we can have a vote of 66-64 in favour of bringing on debate of the most important bill this nation needs and we were defeated on a technicality, a technicality of the prime minister’s doing.
‘It’s absolutely clear now that this prime minister, this government, does not wish to instigate a federal integrity commission.’
Ms Archer sits next to Ms Haines in solidarity after she voted against the Government
Prime Minister Scott Morrison looked irritated after Ms Archer crossed the floor
The Government has previously stopped debate on Ms Haines’ bill, with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher saying it has an alternate proposal in the works.
The Opposition says a federal corruption watchdog – similar to the NSW ICAC which brought down Gladys Berejiklian – is urgently needed to stop rorts.
Calls for the integrity commission ramped up as the Federal Government faced scandals including the so-called car-park rorts and sports rorts where sports facility grants were funnelled to marginal seats.
A total of 73 per cent of the projects approved were not recommended by Sport Australia.
Ms Archer said: ‘I don’t take this decision lightly at all. I take this decision very seriously to stand here’