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We fixed latest vote stuff-up: govt

AAP logoAAP 12/10/2016

Labor is making as much as it can out of another government blunder on the floor of federal parliament.

But senior ministers are dismissing the latest procedural stuff-up as human error of little consequence.

The government on Wednesday night effectively voted to call on itself to explain its own failures on multinational tax avoidance when it supported a Labor amendment to one of its bills.

Opposition MPs gleefully jumped on an oversight by Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer, with senior Labor figure Tony Burke saying her mistake made the coalition the first federal government in Australian history to vote against itself.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne blamed the mistake on an "inadvertent error" which was rectified when Speaker Tony Smith intervened and Labor co-operated to allow the bill in its original form to pass.

The error came a month after the government lost three procedural votes when senior ministers left the lower house chamber early.

"They reckon they can knock off early, they reckon they can turn up and not pay attention, they think they cannot do their jobs," Mr Burke told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

He predicted the Turnbull government would not last its full term.

"If the first 10 (sitting) days are any guide at all, then this is a government that's not counting up its days, this is a government in countdown."

But cabinet minister Steve Ciobo played down the incident, praising Mr Pyne's clean-up effort.

"There were a number of procedural errors which the 'Fixer' has now fixed," he said.

Mr Ciobo defended Ms O'Dwyer, saying it was a little juvenile for people to claim a procedural error in some way impacted her deep knowledge of complex financial matters.

Former treasurer Wayne Swan, who helped guide controversial legislation through the 2010-13 hung parliament, said the blunder showed the government didn't have a clue when it came to operating the lower house.

"I think this should put to bed the notion that Christopher Pyne is the fixer," he said.

That's "dead and cremated".

Ms O'Dwyer labelled the incident a stunt, saying Labor was playing games.

Labor later on Thursday moved to interrupt business in the parliament with a motion noting the government's loss of control over the lower house and calling on it to explain the failures outlined in the amendment.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government was not running parliament professionally, and that the buck stopped with Mr Pyne.

"This is a government who are divided, more worried about their own jobs than the jobs of Australians, and they're not even doing their job in parliament properly," he told reporters.

"This is a complete shambles."

Ms Dwyer insisted it was a procedural mistake that had no impact on the passing of the bill.

"It's important to note that when Labor have an opportunity to take real action on important issues like multinational companies and shifting profits offshore ... they don't, they vote it down," she said.

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