People inspect the damage after Israeli bombardment of the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on June 22, 2024
People inspect the damage after Israelis bombard the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on June 22, 2024 AFP

Labor Senator Fatima Payman risked expulsion from the party on Tuesday when she crossed the floor to vote for a Greens motion recognizing the Palestinian state.

Following the move, a government spokesperson did not rule out possible sanctions against her. According to Labor rules, all members must vote to support the party line, failing which they are expelled or suspended. The party's national executive decides a member's expulsion or suspension.

Payman said it was the party's "prerogative" to take action or not. The 29-year-old senator from Western Australia did not hide her disappointment with her colleagues for not supporting the Palestine cause and added that she crossed the floor for "humanity," The Guardian reported.

"Each step I took across the Senate floor felt like a mile, [but] I know I did not walk these steps by myself, and I know I did not walk them alone," Payman told reporters. "I am proud of what I did today," she said, pointing to the party platform to support Israel and Palestine to live side by side. "We cannot believe in two-state solutions and only recognize one."

She is the first caucus member in 18 years to have crossed the floor. The last member to cross the floor was former Tasmanian MP Harry Quick in 2005. The two Labor MPs who had crossed the floor -- Senator George Georges in 1986 and MP Graeme Campbell in 1988 -- were suspended from the party.

A government spokesperson could not confirm if the party would take action against Payman. He said: "The senator says she maintains strong Labor values and intends to continue representing the Western Australians who elected her as a Labor senator. There is no mandated sanction in these circumstances and previous caucus members have crossed the floor without facing expulsion."

Payman's relentless support for Palestine is a cause for concern to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese government, who has tried to keep the Labor Party united on the issue, reported.

Apart from Payman, independent senators David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe voted for the Greens motion.