Liberal MP Julia Banks Dramatically Defects From The Party
Liberal MP Julia Banks will sit for the rest of the parliamentary sitting term as an independent, sensationally quitting the party and further reducing the government's numbers.
Banks, the member for the Victorian seat of Chisholm, had alleged bullying during the August leadership spill.
She had flagged she may quit politics ahead of the next election, but on Tuesday she made an extraordinary statement in the parliament announcing her split from the Liberal party.
She called the leadership spill a "brutal blow", called out the "reactionary right wing", and said major parties "have stopped listening to the Australian people".
"The Liberal Party has changed, largely due to the actions of the reactionary and regressive right wing who talk about and to themselves rather than listening to the people," she said.
"To continue to put the people before the party and act in the nation's interest constructively, effective immediately, I will serve as a member of this House of Representatives as an independent representative."
Her shock announcement reduces the government's numbers in the House of Representatives from 75 to 74, putting the Coalition at further risk of losing important votes in the lower house -- including over Peter Dutton's potential referral to the High Court over section 44 constitutional matters.
Sensationally, Banks made the announcement while Prime Minister Scott Morrison was holding his own press conference, where he announced the federal budget would be held earlier than usual, on April 2.
As news broke that Banks was at that very moment resigning from the party, journalists attempted to fire questions at Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, but the pair quickly retreated inside.
While the PM was perhaps caught off-guard by the announcement, in the House of Representatives, Bill Shorten and a number of other Labor members had assembled inside to hear Banks' speech. Some on that side applauded Banks' speech.
Mr Morrison already presides over a minority government, previously with 75 seats in the 150 seat chamber. Now the government holds just 74.
Banks said she would make a decision about her future career path in the new year.