Independent MP Zali Steggall has attacked a government decision that will see personal staff for crossbenchers slashed in the new Parliament.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has moved to cut crossbench staffers from four to one per MP or Senator, which critics have called an attack on democracy.
Steggall, who retained the seat of Warringah in northern Sydney at the recent federal election, said the impact would be “huge”.
“We consider each piece of legislation, we consult with stakeholders, we listen to the communities,” she said.
“We propose amendments and that is all done from the benefit of having advisors to be able to do that research.
“So, it’s essentially not going to be possible to consider each piece of legislation.”
Albanese suggested crossbench MPs use the central bank of staffers in the parliamentary library for research purposes instead.
However, Steggall said the role they could play was limited as they were unable to “advise” MPs or Senators.
“Basically, the prime minister is suggesting we have no ability to proposal alternate policy or legislation,” she said.
Steggall said the crossbenchers in the House of Representatives were due to have a meeting next week in Canberra, where the issue was likely to be discussed.
“It’s incredibly short-sighted of the prime minister. I think it really doesn’t bode well,” she said.
“I would remind the prime minister that most of the policy work, when it’s come to anti-corruption and integrity and, holding the government to account and moving the government on climate change and net-zero commitments, has come from the crossbench. All of that work would not have been possible without advisors.”
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the decision was prompted by budgetary woes.
“We will look at an increase to the parliamentary library to help resource on issues around the Parliament, legislation, research, all of those things,” she said.
“But you know, we’re all making cuts and savings.”
She said it was the prime minister’s prerogative to allocate staff.