Question time in Canberra today was one of the most chaotic sessions ever, with speaker Bronywn Bishop ejecting a record 18 ALP members from Parliament.
That’s six more than Bishop’s previous record of 12.
There are 55 ALP MPs in the lower house – meaning a third of the opposition benches were removed.
MPs are “sin-binned” for one hour under Standing Order 94.
The first to go was NSW MP Ed Husic.
An exasperated Bishop complained of a “wall of noise”, saying “this really does feel like the last week of the sitting” amid constant interjections from both sides of Parliament.
It has been another difficult week for the Abbott government. There have been conflicting messages in the last 24 hours over whether the planned $7 payment for seeing a GP, currently held up in the Senate, will stay as a policy. And the Defence Minister, David Johnston, is seen as barely clinging to his Cabinet position after saying the Australian Submarine Corporation could not be trusted to build a canoe.
The ALP was irritated yet resigned to once again bearing the brunt of Bishop’s ire, but amid the angry exchanges, there were some droll moments.
When Joel Fitzgibbon was asked to leave, Tony Burke, manager of opposition business, questioned her ruling, asking “How is the member supposed to leave his seat and the room?”
“He can do it sequentially. He’s quite clever,” Bishop retorted.
As question drew to a close, Bishop suggested that because a number of those she threw out were Victorian, they perhaps wanted to head off and campaign – and get an early flight home.
“The behaviour today is an absolute disgrace,” the Speaker said
“There was a deliberate campaign of noise and disruption.
“To stand there and say you all behaved like little angels and were picked on was pathetic,” she said.
“Everyone moment there was nothing but disrespect.”
Labor’s Tony Burke said that the ejection of 18 members was an all-time record since federation a century earlier.
Here’s who went and the time they were asked to leave:
1. Member for Chifley, Ed Husic 2.06pm
2. Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland 2.07pm
3. Member for Batman, David Feeney 2.14pm
4. Member for Corio, Richard Marles 2.14pm
5. Member for Franklin, Julie Collins 2.14pm
6. Member for Wakefield, Nick Champion 2.15pm
7. Member for Hotham, Clare O’Neil 2.26pm
8. Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon 2.33pm
9. Member for Griffith, Terri Butler 2.35pm
10. Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese 2.38pm
11. Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby 2.42pm
12. Member for Shortland, Jill Hall 2.47pm
13. Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson 2.52pm
14. Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke 2.54pm
15. Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite 2.57pm
16. Member for Moreton Graham Perrett 3.00pm
17. Member for Perth, Alannah MacTiernan 3.01pm
18. Member for Charlton Pat Conroy 3.02pm
While Labor complains of bias, the Parliamentary library found that Opposition MPs generally comprise 90% of the politicians disciplined, irrespective of who is in government.
Former Labor speaker Harry Jenkins held the record for the most MPs sanctioned with 265 until Bishop arrived in the chair.
At the end of Thursday, she soared past Jenkins to notch up 285. Just five of those MPs came from the Coalition benches.
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