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Shorten to pile pressure on Christensen

George Christensen
George Christensen Tony Martin

BILL Shorten will unleash fresh pressure on Queensland LNP renegade George Christensen to save penalty rates - a position he crossed the floor on this year - when a diminished Turnbull Government returns to Parliament.

The MP for Dawson, whose electorate has a high number of workers who rely on penalty rates, has yet to divulge to The Courier-Mail whether he would again cross the floor - a move that could severely embarrass the Turnbull Government.

Mr Christensen did not return calls yesterday.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s High Court woes are causing headaches for the Turnbull Government. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s High Court woes are causing headaches for the Turnbull Government. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

Labor has yet to reveal its full attack on the Government when it returns to Parliament on November 27 without the vote of benched Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce.

The Courier-Mail understands Labor will target Mr Christensen and use his own words and actions against him in Parliament.

It is also likely Labor will try to force the Government to use the casting vote of Speaker Tony Smith in a bid to create further heartburn for Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Shorten, who was in Mackay in March, said, "George talks a big game in Mackay but when he's in Canberra he's doing nothing to stop these (penalty rate) cuts.

"It's time for George to decide which side he is on. Will he side with local workers, or will he side with Malcolm Turnbull?"

Nationals MP George Christensen has been vocal on his opposition to cutting penalty rates. Picture: Kym Smith
Nationals MP George Christensen has been vocal on his opposition to cutting penalty rates. Picture: Kym Smith

Three months later in June, Mr Christensen introduced a private members bill - The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay of All Workers) Bill 2017. And a day later in Parliament, he tweeted, "Just crossed floor and voted to save penalty rates from Fair Work Commission cuts and unions bargaining them away in EAs. Sad vote lost 73-72".

It comes as Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said the Government would review some of the decisions Mr Joyce made outside Cabinet, given he was invalidly elected at the time.

Campaigning in the lead-up to the December 2 by-election in New England, Mr Joyce said there should be an "omnibus referendum" including a question about recognising indigenous Australians and clearing up dual citizenship issues that cost him his Parliamentary position.

Topics:  bill shorten george christensen penalty rates



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