CANBERRA – Moves to strike down a ban on a controversial shotgun have been tried and failed in the Senate, but not before the unusual sight of a seeming rupture within the Liberal/National Coalition Government.
It came during a marathon sitting of the Senate which finally saw the passing of one of the bills which triggered the July double dissolution election, the Registered Organisations Bills.
Two Nats, Wacka Williams and Bridget McKenzie, split from Libs on guns. "We seem to target innocent gun people too often," Wacka tells Sky.— David Crowe (@CroweDM) November 21, 2016
Not a single Nationals senator voted for the Government's position on the measure proposed by crossbencher David Leyonhjelm which would allow the importation of the seven shot, rapid-fire, lever-action Adler shotgun.
Two Nationals senators Bridget McKenzie and John "Wacka" Williams crossed the floor and voted with Leyonhjelm and One Nation, while three Nationals ministers, Fiona Nash, Nigel Scullion and Matt Canavan -- along with backbench Nationals senator Barry O'Sullivan -- abstained from voting.
The move was easily defeated 45-to-7 with Labor and the Greens voting with Liberal Senators.
What is the debate about the Adler shotgun?
A temporary ban was placed on the seven-shot, lever-action shotgun in 2015
A magazine can be emptied in a matter of seconds
It can fire seven rounds with capacity for an eighth
Proponents want it help deal with feral animals
Opponents say it is too powerful and could end up in the wrong hands
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce -- who has his own history with crossing the floor -- stands by the right of his Upper House colleagues to vote against the government.
Barnaby Joyce on Nats crossing the floor: "We believe in the freedom of the individual. I'm proud of that culture in our party." #auspol— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) November 21, 2016
"I have had discussion with both Wacka and Bridget, but I respect their rights," he told reporters in Canberra.
"They gave cogent arguments as to why they believe the way they do."
"They claimed a clear belief that they had a deal with Leyonhjelm and they were going to stick to it."
"I've had discussions to Wacka and Bridget and I respect their rights"— Charles Croucher (@ccroucher9) November 21, 2016
-Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce after colleagues crossed the floor on guns
Both McKenzie and Williams said they support Australia's current gun control laws and claim the seven shot Adler shotgun won't weaken them.
Joyce has indicated there may be a price to pay for McKenzie and Williams, who has announced earlier this year that he will not be contesting the next election.
"People know there is a price, obviously, if you are in the executive it costs you your job," he said.
"They have got their right. I understand their reasoning. They expressed it and long may that be the way."
The Huffington Post Australia understands that price may be a pause on promotions for two years.
Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek sees it as a Coalition in chaos.
"This is a government at war with itself and Malcolm Turnbull is too weak to assert his authority over the Coalition partners in the National Party," she told reporters in Canberra.
"I think it also shows that the Nationals are desperately worried about the results they saw in the Orange by-election in New South Wales."
"We know that the concerns within the National Party - that they have not been representing bush communities - are coming home to roost now."