Zali Steggall explodes at PM Anthony Albanese over staff cuts – lobbing the ultimate insult at him


Furious independent MP EXPLODES at ‘arrogant’ Anthony Albanese – lobbing the ultimate insult at the PM – even though the move will save taxpayers $4.5MILLION a year

  • Anthony Albanese has told crossbench MPs he will cut their staffing numbers
  • Move has incensed MPs and senators who have threatened to block Labor’s laws 
  • Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall called the Prime Minister ‘arrogant’
  • She also said he was ‘no different to Morrison’ in scathing comment on Twitter 

Anthony Albanese has defended slashing parliamentary staff numbers for crossbench MPs after one called him ‘arrogant’ and ‘no different to Morrison’ in a furious Twitter rant. 

The Prime Minister wants to slash staff headcount for independent MPs from eight to five to save taxpayers about $4.5million a year – but the furious MPs say that would prevent them from doing their jobs.

Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall blasted the Prime Minister in a savage tweet, suggesting he was cutting independents’ staff to reduce their ability to criticise his government.

She also lobbed an insult at Mr Albanese the PM may find particularly offensive – comparing his behaviour to his predecessor Scott Morrison and saying that the pair were actually no different.  

Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall (pictured) blasted the Prime Minister in a savage Tweet over the staffing cuts

Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall (pictured) blasted the Prime Minister in a savage Tweet over the staffing cuts

Ms Steggall suggested the PM was cutting independents' staff to reduce their ability to criticise his government

Ms Steggall suggested the PM was cutting independents’ staff to reduce their ability to criticise his government

‘Albo MP didn’t mind the Xbench having staff to put up alternative policies & push for anti corruption & climate & hold the Morrison Govt to account but feels differently now,’ she wrote on Saturday. 

‘We are seeing his true character: dismissive of our communities & arrogant. No different to Morrison.’

Mr Albanese shot back on ABC radio on Monday morning, pointing out that crossbench MPs will still have one more staff member than Coalition and Labor MPs who get four.

‘Well, what is not fair is the idea that Zali Steggall’s electorate should have double the representation in terms of staff of electorates in the same region,’ he said.

‘And the fact is that the eight staff that were allocated to the crossbenchers were more than senior frontbenchers had in opposition.

‘Independents will have more staff than major party representatives. 

‘And the additional staff will have travel rights that major party backbenchers won’t have. They’ll be on higher salaries,’ he said.

Mr Albanese wants to cut the number of parliamentary staff a crossbencher can hire from four to one senior adviser. They will still get four electoral office staff. 

The move has incensed all crossbench MPs and senators who have threatened to block Labor’s laws in retaliation. 

Mr Morrison had quietly increased crossbenchers’ parliamentary staff to four in 2019.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon board a plane to Europe for a Nato summit on Sunday

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon board a plane to Europe for a Nato summit on Sunday

‘At the same time as (the Morrison government) were cutting Centrelink staff, people can’t get passports, visas can’t get processed, the only area of public service that saw an increase in staffing levels appears to have been parliamentary staff,’ Mr Albanese said. 

Independent ACT senator David Pocock – whose vote could be crucial for Labor to pass laws – accused the prime minister of making the decision to gain political advantage.

‘Cutting back on our small teams creates an unfair playing field which disadvantages our communities and our capacity to actually advocate on their behalf,’ Senator Pocock told ABC radio.

‘It could be incredibly hard to actually be across legislation and if I don’t understand things it’s going to be very hard to actually vote on them.’

But Mr Albanese insisted the independents – who do not have the support and resources of a party or department – were not on their own. 

‘The fact is that they have access to the Parliamentary Library that we will be increasing support for.

Independent ACT senator David Pocock (left) - whose vote could be crucial for Labor to pass laws - accused the prime minister of making the cuts to gain political advantage

Independent ACT senator David Pocock (left) – whose vote could be crucial for Labor to pass laws – accused the prime minister of making the cuts to gain political advantage

‘They have access to clerks that draft legislation, in addition to personal staff. I’ve had discussions with crossbenchers.’ 

Kooyong Independent Monique Ryan, who booted Josh Frydenberg out of Parliament, also blasted the Prime Minister over the proposed cut.      

‘If he really does want to work collaboratively with us, it’s inexplicable that the PM’s first act of engagement with the new cross bench is to attack our ability to work independently. This is a mistake by the PM,’ she wrote.

One Nation – which has two senators – said the party would oppose government legislation if it could not properly scrutinise it. 

And Jacqui Lambie said she was ‘fuming’ over the move.

‘If we can’t go through the legislation, how can we vote on it? I’m not voting for something that I can’t go through,’ she said. 

Labor has a majority in the lower house but needs the support of the Coalition or the Greens plus one crossbencher to pass laws in the senate.

This has led to speculation Mr Albanese will have to reach a compromise on staff numbers to keep the independents on side. 

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said all members of parliament worked hard and crossbenchers should not have an unfair allocation of more staff.

‘We don’t want to put anyone offside but we also need to have a sustainable staffing arrangement,’ she told ABC radio.

‘It’s not fair that the cross bench get four additional staff on top of what every other parliamentarian who’s not a shadow (minister) or a minister gets.’ 

Independent candidate Monique Ryan has also criticised Mr Albanese's staffing cuts

Independent candidate Monique Ryan has also criticised Mr Albanese’s staffing cuts

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