Is it time for “Moving to the cross bench” to be removed from the conventions of Australian politics.

In the Australian parliaments, both Federal and state, there is a convention for politicians who leave their Parliamentary party to serve on the cross bench as an independent.

This can happen in one of two circumstances.

1 The MP has some major disagreement on a matter of policy with the party and no longer feels they can vote with the party as matter of conscience.

2 The party has a major problem as a matter of principle with the member and expels them from the party

These people were not elected as individuals. They were elected as members of the political party and were elected because they had the support and the resources of that party. Once they have chosen to, or have been forced to, leave the party, they should not continue to be employed on the public purse as if they have their ex-party’s support.

In the case of Adem Somyurek who was minister in the Andrews government and a member of the Victorian Legislative Council. He was thrown out of the Labour Party and sits as an independent member in the Victorian Parliament 

In the case of Craig Kelly who was an MP in the Morrison government, he left the Liberal party, moved to cross bench as an independent and then joined the Clive Palmer-funded United Australia Party.

In both cases, these individuals no longer represent the party they were elected for. They represent a new set of values or they have disgraced set of values they were elected for. In both cases, they should resign from Parliament and face the electorate.

Palmer has had his fair share of people moving to the cross bench. All four of the Palmer United party, the four 2013 Senators quit on him and moved to the cross bench, only Jacqui Lambie survived the next election.

It is not expected that Kelly or Somyurek will be re-elected.

There is a very simple and clear principle here. People stand at elections where they have clear policies, which are usually those of the party they represent. When they no longer represent that party, they should resign from Parliament and test their new set of policies with the electorate.

These should not remain in Parliament on the assumption that their personal popularity and new sets of values resonates with the electorate.

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