Maverick Senator Jacqui Lambie will decide her political future and possibly the federal government’s legislative agenda after meeting a family friend in Canberra on Monday.
After a fashion makeover and weekend of soul-searching in a Tasmanian log cabin Senator Lambie is still undecided on whether to split from the Palmer United Party.
A public spat between Senator Lambie and leader Clive Palmer has dragged on for weeks and speculation is mounting that she’s days away from pulling the plug on the PUP.
She flew to Canberra on Sunday night ahead of the parliamentary sitting week.
Her chief of staff Rob Messenger told AAP any decision about Senator Lambie’s future would be made after a meeting with her family friend Tasmanian barrister Glynn Williams late on Monday.
Mr Williams will be in Canberra on separate business lobbying the government on agriculture policy as president of the Tasmanian Poppy Growers group.
If Senator Lambie defects from PUP the government will have to work much harder to secure votes from four loose subgroups – Senators Lambie and Ricky Muir; PUP senators, Senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon and Senators Leyonhjelm and Day.
Previously, the government’s top priority had been securing support from Mr Palmer’s block of four votes.
Fellow Senate crossbenchers weighed into the PUP row on Sunday with Family First Senator Bob Day encouraging Senator Lambie to sort out her differences with her colleagues.
“Senator (Glenn) Lazarus and Dio Wang are both very, very good people,” he told Network Ten.
He said it was too early to tell if Mr Palmer’s power was completely diminished.
But he left the door open on Senator Lambie joining a loose alliance with himself and Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm.
Senator Leyonhjelm said the senator’s exit from PUP could spell interesting times for the government’s legislative agenda.
“I guess it also means they won’t be beholden to Clive,” he told ABC TV.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government should be nicer to the crossbenchers.
“One of the reasons why we have good relationships with the crossbenchers is we don’t get out on television and bully them – we sit down and listen to them,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“This is a government that doesn’t know how to listen to people, only to dictate.”
Greens senator Scott Ludlam believes the disintegration of PUP will make life harder for a government which didn’t have the faintest idea on how to negotiate with people.
“I think what we’ll see is a continuation of votes coming right down to the wire,” he said.
Crossbenchers will receive a briefing on Monday from government Senate leader Eric Abetz’s office on the coalition’s game plan for the last parliamentary sitting fortnight for the year.