The five MPs who crossed the floor

After a tense all-night affair, the federal government’s contentious Religious Discrimination Bill passed the House of Representatives.

Five Liberal MPs rebelled by crossing the floor to vote with Labor in support of a crossbench amendment to bolster protections for gay teachers and ensure transgender students were included.

The five MPs who crossed the floor – Fiona Martin, Bridget Archer, Trent Zimmerman, Katie Allen and Dave Sharma.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The amendments pertain to 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act that allows religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy.

That vote was carried by a margin of 65 to 57 votes in what a Labor source described as a “crushing win”.

These are the five Liberal MPs who crossed the floor.

FIONA MARTIN

Before she entered Parliament in the Sydney seat of Reid in 2019, Fiona Martin worked as a psychologist and academic researcher. She crossed the floor on the basis this bill risked more hurt for already vulnerable students.

BRIDGET ARCHER

Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer crossed the floor for a second time after earlier crossing to support Labor’s amendments, which were ultimately defeated 90 votes to 6.

Ms Archer has represented the Bass electorate since 2019 and told Parliament she was “horrified” when she saw the draft legislation because it “may risk lives”.

TRENT ZIMMERMAN

Trent Zimmerman is the member for North Sydney and waved a rainbow flag as he told Parliament he would be crossing the floor to support Labor’s requested amendments to the bill. He abstained from voting for the bill itself on the basis it was a “bad signal” to send to the LGBTIQ community.

“I can honestly say this has been one of the most difficult weeks of my time in parliament,” he said, his voice cracking.

“I could not live with myself if I did not seek to address those issues.”

“I cannot stand by and do anything that makes their situation more difficult, which sends anything other than a message from this parliament, which most receive in their schools, but sadly some don’t, that we want to embrace you, we want to love you, we want to support you, we want to nurture you,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman is a leading moderate and has represented his electorate since 2015.

KATIE ALLEN

Before representing the electorate of Higgins, Katie Allen was a paediatrician and medical researcher. The Victorian MP has been a member of Parliament representing the Liberal Party since 2019.

Earlier this week, Ms Allen gave conditional support for the bill but warned she was prepared to cross the floor if protections for students and teachers were not guaranteed.

DAVE SHARMA

The former diplomat has been the member for Wentworth since 2019 and crossed the floor after deciding transgender students were not safe from expulsion, and gay teachers were not properly protected.

“It’s fair to say I’ve got concerns and reservations about this bill but it’s also fair to say that I appreciate that it was an election commitment, it was an election commitment that I ran on and that there are good parts in the bill,” Mr Sharma said.

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