For around two weeks, four Upper House MP’s have been in exile, banned from entering the parliament and prevented from voting on any bills. Three of these crossbench MP’s, Tim Quilty, David Limbrick and Catherine Cumming, set up a ‘parliament in exile’ inside a small underground nightclub – the Chaise Lounge club in Melbourne’s CBD. Their suspension as it stands was to apply until early February 2021, well after a vote on the new sex work decriminalisation bill had passed.
So what do these three ‘rebel’ MP’s have to do with sex work? In order to pass law, the Victorian Government needs the votes of at least 3 additional crossbench MP’s. All three of these are MP’s the government needs to help get sex work decriminalisation across the line.
Last night and this morning, all three announced they would comply with vaccine mandates and return to parliament to vote on a number of bills, including the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021.
David and Tim are supportive of sex work decrim, and will likely vote for the bill. This very much helps us get the numbers needed to get this bill over the line.
Four MP’s in Victoria’s Upper House were just suspended for failing to comply with new vaccine mandate requirements. What does this mean for the prospect of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 obtaining enough votes in the Upper House?
First, what does the suspension mean? Some argue that preventing elected MP’s from voting is an anti-democratic move, and one legal scholar questions the constitutionality of the suspensions. The four suspended MP’s, including the two Liberal Democrat crossbenchers, will still be able to participate in parliament remotely and ask questions as normal. However, they will not be permitted to vote on legislation. Unless the Victorian Government amends the suspension motion, or the suspended MP’s decide to comply with the requirement, the suspension expires on the second sitting day of parliament in February 2022.
The four suspended MP’s represent 10% of the 40 Upper House MP’s. With the absence of independent Adem Somyurek as well as the absence of the four suspended MP’s, the government needs a majority of votes out of 35 votes in total. This should make it easier for any government bill to pass.