Coalition MP crosses floor over watchdog

·2-min read

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he doesn't want a new federal anti-corruption agency to be a kangaroo court.

Multiple attempts by Labor and crossbench MPs and senators to set up an integrity commission have been blocked by the government, the most recent being on Thursday which secured the support of a coalition MP Bridget Archer.

Mr Morrison told parliament the NSW anti-corruption commission hearings into former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian were "disgraceful", and the government's proposal for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission was a better approach.

However, the CIC legislation has yet to go to the coalition party room or parliament despite an election promise to establish an integrity commission this term.

The prime minister's comments came after Ms Archer supported a motion calling for an urgent debate on an integrity commission bill in the House of Representatives.

Ms Archer was called the "lioness of the 46th parliament" and a "hero" by independent MPs after she crossed the floor in an attempt to bring on a debate about introducing a corruption watchdog.

The government had the fewest votes when it came to two separate motions on whether to allow a debate to take place.

But as an absolute majority of 76 votes was required in the 151-member chamber, debate did not continue.

Independent MP Helen Haines, who introduced the bill, said the absolute majority was a technicality which stopped the debate because not all House of Representatives members were present in Canberra due to restrictions.

Following the vote Dr Haines told reporters there were other government backbenchers who had talked about supporting an integrity commission.

"This is far from over," she said.

"The nation can take some comfort in knowing that despite what the prime minister is doing ... the majority of (members) want an integrity commission."

The motion was supported by the opposition, Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Craig Kelly, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie.

Mr Wilkie said Ms Archer's decision was the single greatest thing he had seen any member do during his 11 years in parliament.

"She's a hero," he said.

Ms Archer is the second government MP to cross the floor in as many days, following Queensland MP George Christensen doing the same on Wednesday over a bill dealing with class actions.

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