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The Government Cancelled A Week Of Parliament, But Lots Of Pollies Are Turning Up Anyway

"Parliament will sit on Monday. Whether it sits on the garden lawn, or whether it sits in a building, we don't care."

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The Australian government has cancelled a week of parliament as it struggles with the citizenship crisis and faces the embarrassing possibility of losing a crucial vote to set up a banking inquiry.

But the Labor opposition and cross bench MPs are not taking the decision lying down – and say that come Monday they will rock up to Parliament House anyway.

The parliament was scheduled for two more weeks of joint sittings of the Senate and the House of Representatives, from November 27 to December 7.

But the amended schedule will see only the Senate return next week as planned. The House of Representatives will come back a week later, from December 4, and then sit a second week, from December 11, if required.

Manager of government business Christopher Pyne said the cancellation is to ensure the passage of marriage equality and deal with the citizenship crisis before the end of the year — but Labor has accused the government of trying to dodge a commission of inquiry into the banks while it is down two MPs.

Liberal National senator Barry O'Sullivan has said up to four Nationals MPs are considering crossing the floor in the House of Representatives on the banking bill – which would grant the numbers needed to force a debate and pass the bill into legislation.

"Neither John Alexander, nor Barnaby Joyce, would be back in the house," Pyne said. "We would not sit until maybe next year, if what you are suggesting was the motivation of the government."

Joyce and Alexander were dramatically ejected by the High Court and resigned from parliament as part of the ongoing citizenship crisis.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said at a media conference on Monday: "We will be turning up to work [next] Monday because the Australian people expect nothing less.

"It is completely wrong of prime minister Turnbull to put off the parliament because he thinks he can't control the decision of the parliament. This is very unhealthy for our democracy."

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek labelled the "suspension of democracy" was "the kind of thing that happens in a dictatorship".

But the schedule change has also attracted ire from the cross bench. Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter and Greens MP Adam Bandt have both vowed to turn up to work.

.@RealBobKatter: We don't care where parliament sits but it will sit on Monday. MORE: https://t.co/jGPjzUpd5W

Katter told a press conference that he would be sitting on Monday even if the government wasn't.

"Parliament will sit on Monday," he said. "Whether it sits on the garden lawn, or whether it sits in a building, we don't care. And it will vote, and it will make the laws of the land.

"I warned two weeks ago that if the Liberals start trying tricky business they are walking dangerous ground indeed ... All this is about is the royal commission into the banks."

A bill for same-sex marriage has been introduced to the Senate and debate started last week. This will continue next week, with a deadline for the bill to pass on November 30 – and then go to the House of Representatives.

Pyne said the lower house would pass the new citizenship legislation on December 4, meaning MPs would have until 8pm on December 5 to submit all the information required about their family birthplaces and citizenship.

"That would give us the time to do with any referrals that might be needed, give us time to digest information that has been provided by the House of Representatives and then passed any resolutions required by the end of that sitting week," Pyne said.

"When we are not dealing with citizenship, we will therefore deal with marriage equality and we will try and do that in the week of the 4 December, but if it goes on because of speeches and amendments that might need to be considered, we still have that week available to us in the 11 December and the following week if required."

If more amendments are made to the same-sex marriage bill in the House, it would have to go back to the Senate before it can be passed into law.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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