Coalition backbencher Bridget Archer has been called the “lioness of the 46th parliament” and a “hero” by independent MPs after she crossed the floor in an attempt to bring on a debate about introducing a corruption watchdog.

The Tasmanian Liberal embarrassed the federal government by supporting a motion from independent MP Helen Haines who called for an urgent debate on her integrity commission bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Ms Archer told parliament time had gone on long enough without a debate on the introduction of a federal independent commission against corrupt conduct.

The government had the fewest votes when it came to two separate motions on whether to allow a debate to take place.

But as an absolute majority of 76 votes was required in the 151-member chamber, debate did not continue.

Ms Haines said the absolute majority was a technicality which stopped the debate because not all House of Representatives members were present in Canberra due to restrictions.

Following the vote Ms Haines told reporters there were other government backbenchers who had talked about supporting an integrity commission.

Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer crosses the floor during a vote for the integrity commission in the House of Representatives at Parliament House on Thursday.
Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer crosses the floor during a vote for the integrity commission in the House of Representatives at Parliament House on Thursday. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAP

“This is far from over,” she said.

“The nation can take some comfort in knowing that despite what the prime minister is doing … the majority of (members) want an integrity commission.”

The motion was supported by the opposition, Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Craig Kelly, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie.

Mr Wilkie said Ms Archer’s decision was the single greatest thing he had seen any member do during his 11 years in parliament.

“She’s a hero,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on after Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer crosses the floor.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on after Liberal member for Bass Bridget Archer crosses the floor. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAP

The government has previously stopped debate on Ms Haines’ bill, with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher telling parliament there was an alternate proposal in place for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

The CIC legislation has yet to go to the coalition party room or parliament despite an election promise to establish an integrity commission.

“The irony of breaking an election promise on integrity is certainly not lost on me and I’m sure it’s not lost on voters,” Ms Haines said.

Ms Archer is the second government MP to cross the floor in as many days, following Queensland MP George Christensen doing the same on Wednesday over a bill dealing with class actions.

Coalition MP crosses floor over watchdog
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