OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has had besieged MP Craig Thomson on the run for more than a year.
But on Wednesday the tables were turned.
Mr Abbott and the Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne made a mad dash for the exits when it became apparent Mr Thomson, who sits on the crossbenches after being suspended from the Labor caucus, was voting with the Coalition to stop the government's attempt to gag debate about increasing Australia's debt ceiling.
The Opposition has consistently criticised the Gillard government for accepting Mr Thomson's "tainted vote" in the parliament.
So as the doors were locked on Wednesday morning for the ballot, known as a division, Mr Abbott sprung from his seat and sprinted for the door in a bid to effectively cancel out Mr Thomson's vote.
It was the parliamentary equivalent of mission impossible, without the music ... or the special effects ... or Tom Cruise.
But unlike Mr Pyne, he didn't make it, and despite protestations from the Opposition benches, he was ordered by Deputy Speaker Anna Burke to remain in the chamber.
Mr Abbott later told reporters it was "obviously a stunt orchestrated between Craig Thomson, Anthony Albanese and the government".
"As soon as it became apparent that the government was pulling this stunt, Christopher Pyne and I absented ourselves from the chamber," Mr Abbott said.
"So we did not accept the tainted vote of Craig Thomson."
Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie described the sight of Australia's alternative prime minister sprinting from the chamber as "unedifying".
Fellow independent Rob Oakeshott agreed.
"There's a number of things happening in public policy at the moment that are unedifying," Mr Oakeshott said.
"This morning is the latest example."
He said the episode shot down the "ridiculous argument that one MP can somehow own or disown another MP's vote".
"I do not buy the argument ... that political parties are somehow above the Australian Constitution," he said.
See the video of Tony Abbott and Chritopher Pyne's mad dash for the exit at ABC Online.
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