Ex-Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has taken up her spot on the Senate cross bench after suddenly quitting the party.
The Indigenous senator left the minor party after differences on the voice to parliament couldn’t be reconciled.
Taking her new seat for the first time Tuesday, Senator Thorpe quickly acknowledged her move and asked to be added to a committee in a 30-second speech.
She was embraced by fellow independent David Pocock and spoke with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, Greens senators Janet Rice and Larissa Waters, and United Australia Party senator Ralph Babet.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government would engage with all senators “in the spirit of co-operation”.
“We’ve had discussions with the Greens and with Senator Thorpe and with others about important parts of our agenda so far,” he said.
“That will continue no matter the makeup of the cross bench in the Senate.”
Opposition leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham also said the coalition would work with whoever was on the cross bench to hold the government to account.
“We oppose bad legislation and we seek to improve legislation where we can and support good legislation to pass through,” he said.
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley attacked Senator Thorpe for putting the spotlight on herself.
“The thing with Lidia Thorpe is it’s always about Lidia,” she said.
“She’s paid by the taxpayer to be a senator for Victoria, and I will simply ask her to reflect on that.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt said he wished Senator Thorpe had stayed in the party but respected her decision.
She said being an independent enabled her to more freely speak her mind on Indigenous issues.
Senator Thorpe’s exit brings the number of Greens in the Senate down to 11.
The government now needs two crossbenchers alongside the Greens, who hold the balance of power, to pass legislation.
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