Can someone disagree with their team in parliament? Are there consequences?
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Thanks for your question, Charli.
Generally, a senator or member of the House of Representatives can disagree with their team in Parliament. However, there may be consequences for doing so, depending upon their position in the team and where in Parliament they express their disagreement.
Parliamentary parties – political parties with elected members – are influential because their members work as a team and generally vote the same way on issues before the Parliament. Some of this influence will be lost if members of the team publicly disagree with each other, especially if they vote against their team in Parliament. Voting against your team is called ‘crossing the floor’.
Each political party has its own rules about membership. Some parties may allow—but not encourage—members to vote against the team while others do not.
The best place in Parliament for members to disagree with their team—without consequences—is at party meetings. The main purpose of these meetings is to decide how the party will work together as a team. In party meetings, members may:
- debate and make decisions about party policy
- discuss tactics and organise party members to speak on particular bills – proposed laws
- resolve potential conflict and differences of opinion to ensure party unity.