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As has been made abundantly clear by the media, the Liberals are avowedly breaking the agreement they made with the independents and the Labor Party because of constitutional concerns about the pairing of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s votes. I have noted my strong disagreement about the strength of that argument.

However, here is incontestable evidence that the Liberals are not breaking that agreement solely because of constitutional concerns

Mr Abbott is also refusing to pair government MPs for all but critical reasons, forcing the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, to pull out of an event next week with 400 global chief executives.

They are repudiating both the pairing arrangement for the Speaker as well as for ordinary MPs. Why would they break the pairing arrangement for ordinary MPs? They themselves haven’t raised any constitutional issues. The only reason could be naked political self-interest.

If you add this on top of the press release that Tony Abbott’s office sent out pretending to be Alex Somlyay and quoting him (without asking him), it really is quite amazing. Was Abbott trying to muscle him into not becoming Deputy Speaker? That was a pretty poor way of doing it.

Of course, one should never trust a politician, but it is remarkable that the Coalition is willing to so brazenly break an express promise in this manner. As I have argued, this hurts their reputation before the public in the short term and potentially the longer term. More crucially, it hurts their reputation before the independents whom they would need if they wanted to change government on the floor of the House.


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