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What a pathetic show we saw in federal parliament on Thursday evening. A naive government, believing Labor’s rhetoric that bipartisan politics had made a return, let its guard down and saw its weakness of numbers brilliantly exposed by Bill Shorten and Labor in a cleverly conceived political trick designed to take Sam Dastyari off the front pages and to possibly bring down the government.

Before Shorten and his mates have finished taking their smirks off their faces, Labor’s dirty tricks department will have conceived a new political stunt for our amusement in this pantomime for the people called federal parliament.

For the Coalition government, numbers will be counted every time someone on their side goes to the toilet and they will wait until the lights go off in the chamber before leaving for the day.

These tactics are not “opposing”, as an opposition is meant to do in holding a government to account, they are simply political acts of sabotage designed to destroy the Coalition government and bring Labor back to power.

Meanwhile, attempts to introduce and pass bills for the purpose of governing the country are delayed or prevented from passing. It’s a helluva way to run a country.

Michael Wills, Armadale, Vic

Your article about Archer Capital boss Peter Wiggs sums up the mood in Australia today — “who cares?” (“Private equity thumbs nose at public opinion”, 2/9). The lazy government MPs who were more concerned about getting home for the weekend and couldn’t see a half-smart Labor ambush coming, truly beggars belief. And that on top of Scott Morrison getting his sums wrong was not a good start for the Turnbull government. But who cares?

Sam Dastyari’s foray into dubious accounting methods left a lot to be desired but all we got from Labor were lame excuses. Bill Shorten was too busy trying to worm his way out of supporting the government’s budget repair bills. But who cares?

Nick Xenophon was seeing which way opinion was going before making a decision and the Greens were doing their best to find another way to destroy the economy. But who cares? The only bright spot was crossbench senators David Leyonhjelm and Pauline Hanson talking about winding back welfare and duplication of federal and state services.

Don Spence, Ashmore, Qld

It is a sad reflection of how lightly our MPs take their responsibilities when several of them leave before the house has adjourned, thus giving the opposition a clear field for their ambush. The country has every right to expect that they will not slope off early from their job. What do these people think they are being handsomely paid for? This is a national disgrace and requires disciplinary action.

Noreen J. Pryor, Yandina, Qld

Like many on both sides, I thought Malcolm Turnbull was a shining light, but he has disappointed in so many ways. How a man with his experience and intellect could allow himself to be outsmarted by a union hack beggars belief. Thursday’s pantomime where Turnbull, knowing he has a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives allowed members to take their leave early, thereby enabling Labor to outnumber the government when it came to voting on procedural issues goes to show Turnbull has his hands off the political steering wheel.

John George, Terrigal, NSW