- In the Australian State of Victoria the upper house (The Senate) has been debating a bill regarding the restructuring of the Fire Services.
- The ruling party has a majority of one.
- Late on Thursday it became clear that the debate would continue through to Good Friday.
- Two Christian members belonging to the opposition party declared that they could not take part in the debate on Good Friday for religious reasons.
- In situations like this there is a procedure known as "pairing".
- If the two members failed to appear in the Senate then their votes would be lost and the ruling party would have its majority increased from one to three.
- Therefore, as a favour to the Christian members, the ruling party allowed them to "pair" with two members of the ruling party.
- That meant that two members of the ruling party also decided not to appear on Good Friday and so the original situation was preserved - the ruling party still had its majority of one.
But here's the cunning bit:
- As soon as the "paired" members of the ruling party had left the Senate and returned home, the two Christian members of the opposition party walked back into the Senate and called for a vote.
- Now, because the only missing members were from the ruling party, the opposition party had managed to reverse the situation and gained a majority of one.
- As a consequence they were able to overpower the ruling party and the Fire Services bill was defeated!