A terrible week for the government -- hoisted by the petard of its raid on the Australian Workers' Union and exposed by a series of other embarrassments, big and small, during estimates -- ended about as badly as it could have, with two ministers (who happen to represent the leadership of Coalition junior partners the Nationals) kicked off the benches. The High Court has ruled Deputy Prime Minster Barnaby Joyce and Nationals deputy leader Senator Fiona Nash have been ruled to have been ineligibly elected. Redressing this loss is a relatively straight forward process in the Senate -- although messy in this case, and most likely career-ending for Nash.

However, Joyce, the only member of the House of Representatives to be so far bogged in the dual-citizenship morass, now faces a byelection in his New England seat, dropping the number of seats held by the government to 75 out of 149. Speaker Tony Smith has vowed not to use his casting vote to prop up the government, while independent Cathy McGowan has guaranteed supply and confidence until Joyce is re-elected, assuming that happens.