Australia's Gillard Nominates Speaker Amid Risk of Parliamentary Deadlock
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard named a speaker from the Labor Party today, reducing her legislative advantage to a single seat after the opposition backed out of a deal to compensate for the lost vote.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott and Gillard had agreed on Sept. 6 to assign a lawmaker to vote along with the winning party to make up for the speaker, who can’t vote. Abbott scrapped that deal yesterday, saying it would violate the constitution.
Losing the vote of Harry Jenkins, who will be reelected speaker on Sept. 28, is the latest blow to the Labor Party’s ability to pass legislation. Gillard, 48, remains in power following the closest election in 70 years after she wooed three independent lawmakers and one Greens Party member to back her Labor Party after it lost its majority.
“It’s difficult to have any certainty with just one vote,” Haydon Manning, associate professor of politics at Adelaide-based Flinders University, said by phone today. “Legislation will be debated behind closed doors, then between the government and the independents, then in parliament, and then through the media.”
Senior Liberal Alex Somlyay today agreed to support the government on money bills and confidence, Australian Associated Press reported, citing the member of parliament. He rejected other elements of a deal that would have seen him made the Deputy Speaker in exchange for a guarantee on “pairing” votes, it said.
Australia’s constitution allows the speaker to vote only if the lower house is gridlocked. Gillard wants to install a “pairing” system under which the speaker would be linked with a lawmaker from a major party who would have to abstain from a vote for or against a law.
Gillard has vowed to introduce legislation including a planned 30 percent tax on iron ore and coal profits.
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