In what is shaping up to be a highly-charged battle royale, the Queensland Senate is going to have to decide whether to put up or shut up.
A group of senators, who include the state’s deputy opposition leader, say they won’t put up for the Senate sitting because they feel the public interest is being served by a sitting Senator in the middle of a political controversy.
“We are not going to sit because we feel the media is being unfairly treated,” Queensland Senator George Christensen told ABC News Breakfast.
The Coalition says Senator Christensen is being unfair to the party by refusing to put on the Senate floor when it has a public dispute with the state.
Senator Christensen has repeatedly said he will put on and off the Senate to avoid making it a political issue.
He has said he won’t sit because he believes there is a need for a fair and balanced process in parliament.
But it’s clear the Coalition will have to make a call.
It could come down to a vote in the upper house, which is controlled by the Coalition, or in the lower house, where the Liberal National Party controls the balance of power.
If the lower chamber votes to shut up, the lower House will then be able to decide on the matter.
With no clear majority, the government is unlikely to be able afford to call a vote on the issue.
The decision to put Senator Christensen on the floor comes after the Coalition’s campaign manager, Chris Grayling, accused him of breaking a promise to put him on the chamber floor.
Grayling said Mr Christensen promised to put senators on the Parliament floor when the Coalition was in government, but he didn’t do so during the current Senate sitting.
“This was an election promise and he did not honour it,” he said.
“What he has done is taken an election commitment and now he is trying to make an election-time statement about it.”
The Coalition has been embroiled in a number of scandals and has been hit by accusations of mismanagement of the public purse.
In a recent interview with The Australian newspaper, Mr Grayling said the party had spent $1.3 million on advertising in the last financial year and was in the red because of poor communications.
Federal Labor has also been criticised for spending a lot of money on political ads, including a $400,000 television ad that accused Senator Christensen of being “too politically correct”.
Senator Christensen said he did indeed promise to take senators on to the Parliament, but did not have any money left to do so.
Mr Grayling also said the Coalition had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political advertisements since the 2015 election, and was not in the black.
Labor has also accused the Coalition of using public funds to pay for political advertising, and Senator Christensen has rejected the allegations.
In a statement, Mr Christensen said the media had been trying to influence the matter and that the Government was “in the midst of an internal election”.
“The Australian media has been trying for the last two years to influence this matter and they have been wrong about what has happened, because there are no facts or evidence to support their allegations,” he told ABC Radio Queensland.
There are several questions that the public can ask the Senate and the Government, Senator Christensen said.
Is it a fair process?
Is there a need to have a public inquiry?
Are the parties being treated fairly?
Do the issues have a real impact on the lives of Queenslanders?
What will happen if the Coalition does not get the Senate for the sitting?
The Coalition is the second largest party in the state, and has a majority of 12 in the Upper House.
According to the latest opinion poll, the Coalition has a 10-point lead over Labor in Queensland, but that gap has narrowed slightly in recent days.
ABC News Online’s Nicky Walker has compiled a list of the most contentious issues in the Queensland election and it’s expected the Coalition is expected to win the Senate.
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