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Labor pairing refusal is petty, says govt

AAP logoAAP 16/08/2016 By Rashida Yosufzai

The federal government has accused Labor of resorting to petty politics in a "Dickensian" move to reject a request to pair votes in the new parliament.

The opposition has dismissed a government bid to enter into the arrangement, in which a Labor MP would abstain from voting if a coalition MP is absent.

Labor says it wants to hold Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to his word that the government enjoyed a working majority, adding pairing only occurred in a hung parliament anyway.

"People have asked Malcolm Turnbull if the new parliament is like the hung parliament and he has said it isn't," manager of opposition business Tony Burke told AAP in a statement.

"If Malcolm Turnbull believes for some reason the government is less stable than he has claimed, he should say so publicly."

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne said Labor was making federal parliament less family-friendly just to score a political point.

He said pairing had been observed for over 50 years in a spirit of co-operation, dismissing Mr Burke's comment it only happened during hung parliaments.

Mr Pyne demanded an explanation from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saying the move would deny MPs with young children the ability to represent their constituents.

"Bill Shorten's attitude to pairs in the 45th parliament is a regressive step that takes the parliament back to the Dickensian era of workplace relations," he said in a statement.

"(It) undermines the ability of Australians, particularly women, to participate in national politics."

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