The fate of sheep live exports hangs in the balance as the recently-expanded crossbench seeks to throw its weight behind a Bill to ban the trade.
With just days to go until parliament rises for its summer break on December 6, independents, Labor and the Greens are ramping up pressure to introduce legislation to ban the industry.
Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie yesterday introduced legislation that mirrors the private members bill brought in May by Liberal MPs Sussan Ley and Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson.
The crossbench is pressuring Ms Ley and Henderson to follow their convictions and support a ban because it doesn’t have the numbers to force a vote.
"You had the gumption to come in here and introduce a bill that you believed in," Ms Sharkie said.
"I note that both members now have ministries, I hope that's not the reason for their change of mind and change of heart."
In September Ms Ley was promoted to Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Ms Henderson to Assistant Minister for Social Services.
Liberal’s policy says an MP must resign a ministerial position, and move off the front bench, to vote against party policy.
Under parliament’s rules, Labor and the crossbench require an absolute majority of 76 votes out of a total of 150 to bring on a vote on a bill, not just a majority of votes present on the day.
Following Liberal MP Julia Banks’ defection to the crossbench, and Kerryn Phelps’ victory in Malcolm Turnbull’s former electorate of Wentworth, the Coalition now command 73 votes in Parliament, plus Speaker Tony Smith.
Labor has 69 votes because two of its MPs are overseas on secondment to the United Nations and have been paired with the government.
Crossbencher and Kennedy MP Bob Katter is a strong supporter of live sheep exports, and live cattle exports are a major industry in his Far North Queensland electorate.
Without his vote, two Coalition MPs would need to cross the floor and vote against their party to suspend standing orders so the parliament can debate the bill to ban live exports.
It is unclear how independent crossbencher Cathy McGowan, who represents the rural Victorian electorate of Indi, will vote.
The story Live exports a live issue in parliament’s final week first appeared on Farm Online.