CANBERRA – Labor has ridiculed Turnbull Government after yet another parliamentary stuff up saw it criticise itself in a piece of legislation, however Ministers have lined up Thursday to insist the blunder has been blown out of all proportion, Labor was just "playing games" and that Christopher Pyne, "the Fixer," had fixed it.
Still dealing with last month's embarrassment of losing votes in the House when senior ministers went home early, the Government, in particular the Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer, has been left red-faced after its International Tax Agreement Amendment Bill was allowed to pass the House with a second reading amendment from Labor.
It may seem a mere procedural matter, but the government of the day usually does not accept Opposition amendments in bills and this one criticised the Government and called on it to "explain why it has failed to close tax loopholes and increase transparency in Australia".
Amid confusion, O'Dwyer mistakenly supported the amendment. Only after the bill passed the House without any opposition -- and Labor's Andrew Leigh thanked the government -- did it dawn on them what they had allowed to happen.
"The Turnbull Government is not going to last a full term," said the Leader of Opposition Business Tony Burke.
"They are incompetent. They are lazy.
"What happened yesterday makes a joke of everything this government says. They really have become a joke."
The Opposition could not believe its luck and later assisted the Government Leader in the House, Christopher Pyne, in removing the amendment.
"'The Fixer' has once again fixed it and we are in better position as a consequence," declared Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, referring to Pyne's self described abilities in procedural and budget matters.
Kelly O'Dwyer was not feeling especially contrite Thursday, accusing the Opposition of "playing adolescent games".
— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) October 12, 2016
"There was a procedural mistake last night, but it had no impact on the passing of the bill," O'Dwyer told reporters.
"It is very, very clear that Labor wants to focus on game playing rather than focusing on their record and on a positive message."
It's the second parliamentary blunder for the Coalition after Labor tested the Government's one seat majority last month and won control of the House. Several votes were lost by the Government after Ministers, Peter Dutton, Michael Keenan and Christian Porter were absent from the House. Labor almost secured support for its coveted banking Royal Commission.
"I can't imagine why they want to be ministers or why they bother turning up to parliament at all if they don't think the votes matter," Burke said.
"The votes do matter."
But, Health Minister Sussan Ley has dismissed the incident in the House as a "minor procedural error".
"Blown out of all proportion. A simple procedural mistake," Ley told reporters in Canberra.
"Human error on the part of perhaps a couple of people. Makes absolutely no difference to the legislation. We have passed the quality of that legislation."