Queensland MP Andrew Laming has been banned from parliament for 24 hours after spilling the toxic diesel fuel used by cruise ships in the Australian parliament on Tuesday night.
The incident occurred as the MP for Bowman, in Brisbane’s east, was attempting to move a motion to outlaw what’s known as “bunker fuel”. He poured the “revolting” black fuel onto his hands and rubbed them together, spilling onto the desk and floor in the smaller federation chamber.
The use of bunker fuel has become an election issue in New South Wales, with both the Coalition and ALP saying they will ban it.
There is no national policy on the issue of low-sulfur fuel. The industry is worth about $3.2 billion in Australia, one of the world’s fastest growing markets.
The low-quality, cheap diesel has 3.5% sulfur, is full of heavy metals and considered carcinogenic. Australia lags behind the US, Canada and EU, where just 0.1% sulfur is allowed in the fuel.
“This stuff should not be burnt close to where people live,” Laming said, adding that the ships already carry the cleaner, alternative fuel on board in auxiliary tanks and the change would cost the same as a “big Mac meal deal” – $8 per passenger, on a $4000 ticket.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson was acting deputy speaker and told Laming to “clean up the mess that he has left out of respect for the attendants” before reporting it to speaker Bronwyn Bishop.
At the start of Question Time today, Bishop gave a rare dressing down to an MP from the Coalition, saying his actions were disorderly, disrespectful and reckless, and demanding an apology.
“Setting aside the member’s offence in making use of props, it is highly disorderly to bring dangerous and flammable substances into either of the chambers,” she said.
Laming apologised, Bishop named him, a precursor to ejecting him from parliament and House leader Christopher Pyne was quick to move that he be suspended for 24 hours. The motion was carried.
After being thrown out, an unrepentent Laming issued a statement that he would do it all over again to make his point.
“With other developed nations banning it in ports, it’s long overdue to do the same thing in Australia,” he said.
Watch the protest in Parliament on Tuesday night than got him sin-binned for 24 hours below.
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