Today in parliament The Greens moved a motion to censure the Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, for misleading Parliament over comments she made about the implementation of school league tables being tied to Federal funding.
During the debate over the league tables legislation Verity Firth refused to back down, stating:
We will not put New South Wales at the risk of losing $4.8 billion dollars in Commonwealth investment.
However her representative in the upper house, Penny Sharpe, answered a question by Fred Nile on whether the move to ban league tables would have any impact on the Commonwealth agreement or in anyway threaten Commonwealth funding by saying:
The answer to both questions is no.
Some might consider the move to censure Verity Firth trivial as Labor does not have a majority in the upper house. However, in the context of ongoing scandal the motion is quite embarrassing for the Government, but more importantly, analysing the breakdown of the vote shows the difficulty it faces in the Legislative Council.
The vote passed 18-17 with The Greens, Coalition and Gordon Moyes voting for the motion and Labor and Fred Nile voting against it. The Shooters abstained.
This vote perfectly encapsulates the political dynamic in the upper house. The Coalition will jump on every opportunity to make the Government look bad and Gordon Moyes seems to have developed some kind of environmental and social conscience, for example, siding with The Greens to call on the Minister for State Development to:
(a) respect the right of local communities to peacefully express their opposition to the Repco
(b) actively monitor the environmental and social impacts of the Repco Rally.
On these kinds of motions Fred Nile tends to support the Government as a small thanks for his increase in pay due to his appointment to the useless position of Assistant Deputy President. The Shooters used to be a reliable source of support for Labor but, as discussed previously, they seem desperate to prove they can’t be taken for granted. While showing their bargaining power they aren’t going so far as to actually support censuring the Government, perhaps suggesting a thawing in relations leading to a potential compromise.