One Nation senators and David Pocock granted second adviser amid backlash over crossbench staff cuts

More senators and MPs due to meet Anthony Albanese next week after crossbenchers warned cuts could slow Labor’s legislative agenda

One Nation senators and independent David Pocock have been granted an extra adviser each, as the Albanese government softens cuts to crossbench staff.

But the decision to give Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts and Pocock six staff each instead of the slated five is unlikely to stem demands from independent MPs in the lower house that they need more staff too.

In June, Anthony Albanese cut crossbench MPs and senators’ staffing allocation from eight to five to correct perceived unfairness to other backbench MPs who only receive four staff.

The decision prompted a backlash from independent and minor party MPs, including warnings that in the Senate, where Labor does not have a majority, the crossbench could slow consideration of government legislation.

A One Nation spokesperson told Guardian Australia on Friday that “Senator Hanson consulted with the prime minister this week regarding the allocation of advisers to senators”.

“Mr Albanese better understood the need for senators to have additional advisers considering the vast amounts of legislation crossbench senators need to be across, and the fact that Queensland is a vast electorate.”

The spokesperson said both Hanson and Roberts now had “two allocated advisers” in addition to four electorate office staff, a total of six each. Guardian Australia understands Pocock has also had his allocation increased.

Jacqui Lambie and Tammy Tyrrell, the two Jacqui Lambie Network senators from Tasmania, are due to meet Albanese on Monday.

Crossbench MPs in the lower house and Senatehave been arguing their allocation should be restored from five back to seven staff, in recognition of the greater time spent scrutinising legislation without help from party colleagues’ offices.

Regional MPs Helen Haines, Rebekah Sharkie and Bob Katter were each granted more staff due to the size and remoteness of their electorates.

On Wednesday the leader of the house, Tony Burke, scotched suggestions of any prospect of varying the decision for MPs: “No, there’s not.”

Burke told Guardian Australia it was “not reasonable for them to have more staff than senior members of the opposition” such as the shadow treasurer and manager of opposition business.

He also rejected claims crossbench MPs are busier, arguing the claim backbenchers don’t take an interest in legislation “defies reality” and is “demonstrably not true”.

“This whole debate has really undermined the role that other backbenchers play. The concept that you can’t possibly use electorate staff to help with parliamentary work? Every backbencher does that.”

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The House of Representatives crossbench has grown to 16, including four Greens MPs and 12 independents or minor party MPs, leading to demands for more say on how parliament is run.

Independent MP Zali Steggall is also due to meet with Albanese on Monday.

Last week, Steggall said: “The fact that this staffing situation has still not been resolved two months out from the election is causing a great deal of stress in my office, with the decision leading to the likely termination of the employment of parliamentary staff and the need to restructure the electorate office and terminate certain roles, impacting the community of Warringah.

“We are about to resume parliament and the government are also planning to present a hefty legislative agenda whilst independent MPs are under resourced and a significant number of new MPs will be unable to speak on bills until they are given the opportunity to do their first speeches.

“There is little evidence of the new respectful way of doing politics that is claimed by the PM.”

Guardian Australia has contacted the prime minister’s office for comment.


Paul Karp

The GuardianTramp

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