Madam Speaker is not amused — seriously
We seem to have a new tactic of having an outburst of infectious laughter — which I suspect may become disorderly — and I suspect it might begin with the Member for Franklin. — Madam Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop
Poor Julie Collins, doing her best to be the Member for Franklin, could not help being infected with laughter. Neither could any progressive, modern Australian, because …
the non-progressive, not very modern, leader of the supposedly Liberal government, Anthony John (Tony) Abbott had just reintroduced the ancient honours of knights and dames.
AFTER saying on 22 December that he wouldn’t.
His government expects you to take this seriously, but at least one former Liberal Prime Minister, the even more conservative John Howard, thinks it’s “anachronistic” and seven government MPs (that I know of) agree with him.
Ms Bishop is not one of them.
Madam Speaker: The member for Franklin is warned.
Mr Burke (Manager of Opposition Business): I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker: It had better be a proper point of order. [Bossy Boots]
Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, are you ruling people out of order because they are laughing?
Madam Speaker: The member will resume his seat. The member for Franklin will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a).
If anything, Madam Speaker’s haughty approach to hilarity only made matters worse. The Member for Franklin, almost doubled up from side-splitting disruptiveness, struggled to get the EXIT door open. Watch the sequence of events. Sorry about the car ad. You can hardly blame Opposition MPs for cracking up over some
hysterical historical honours. Laughter can infect even the formidable folks in the New York subway. Clearly, Mr Abbott did not see the funny side, as Pope’s cartoon demonstrates: Mr Abbott (or Mr Pope) is channelling his essential Dame Edna Everage — another pretender to royal hob-nobbing. Pretty soon he was channelling anger, glaring and yelling at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (“The Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” – boy he knows how to rub it in) who had been humming Rule Britannia. Fair go Bill, our anthem is God Save the Queen, isn’t it? Or that Ode to Sheep Rustlers one. At least Pope’s Dame Edna/Caesar was milder than this effort by Shakespeare, who gives his impression of Anthony John (Tony) Abbott as King Somethingorother, mad with the lust for power. Here’s the real Mr Abbott, in his previous role as Opposition Leader, with his eyes on the real prize: the love and affection of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. They’re supposed to protect him from any silly nonsense, like people laughing at him. And not just because he is sensitive to ridicule. His boss, and theirs, Rupert Murdoch, demands that Mr Abbott be protected, especially from policy questions. Sometimes he has to run away to protect himself. And sometimes the Murdoch Press doesn’t follow orders, and does something naughty, like The Courier-Mail front page above. Fancy clashing with Mr Abbott and his new fancy for imperial gongs. Well, it could be worse. Like The Daily Telegraph campaign that had some Labor ministers appearing as Nazis or Stalin, for trying to get the newspapers to agree to what they’d already agreed to, a bit of constraint, not just in column content but in gobbling each other up. You didn’t hear about that last point, did you? Back to Bronnie, as I sometimes call her with all the affection and respect I can muster. Respect for the person, that is. There’s no question about my respect for her current title and its histeric historical grandnessence. MSM doesn’t get to have all the fun. The toughness of Madam Speaker, Bronnie, has been noted in SM memes, like the one below: Bronnie the Destroyer. Infectious laughter is one thing. Talking back to Madam Speaker is another. Later in the day Labor’s Mark Dreyfus got told his Point of Order was not a Point of Order. None of Labor’s is, apparently. Obviously. Mr Dreyfus became irate. He almost did one of them “J’accuse”es. (Same spelling in the surname. They might be related.) He did this instead: “You do have to listen! It’s your job!” Oh dear. Take a walk Mr Dreyfus. 😦 Things got worse the next day. No one tells Madam Speaker what her job is. And fair enough, because they shouldn’t have to. During Question Time Madam Speaker gave another ruling that displeased the Opposition. Mr Dreyfus called out, in exasperation: “Madam Speaker!” No walkies, not just yet. Some procedure first. Madam Speaker NAMED him! Twice. It was the first time Madam Speaker had Named someone. When a Member is Named the Leader of the Government moves for their suspension from the Chamber for 24 hours. Now Mr Dreyfus takes a walk. And the Opposition goes nuts. The Manager of Opposition Business, Mr Burke, brought on a debate, of sorts, that allowed the Opposition to record its displeasure with Madam Speaker in Hansard. It was the first such motion since 1949 — pretty serious stuff. I’m sorry this suddenly got serious. But I had to digress there to mention this: Government Leader in the House, Mr Pyne, defended Madam Speaker in the remarkably hypocritical fashion that the Liberals do so well. He said when in Opposition he was never disrespectful to Labor’s Speaker Anna Burke. The most booted man in history (his words, not mine) pokes his tongue at Speaker Burke as he goes off on another walkabout. And the devious little devil asserted that when in Opposition his side of politics was always well behaved. Yep. Those are all Liberals or NP partners being good little well mannered grown-ups, treating the Parliament with the sort of respect they all think it deserves. Oh, the hypocrisy. Well, when it comes to behaviour in the House, Madam Speaker has the last say — and the last laugh:
insert cartoon credit
Or does she? The ABC’s National Affairs Correspondent for the 7.30 Report, Heather Ewart, thinks we might not have heard the last of this: The End (or not, we shall see) Update, 27 November, 2014 Speaker Bishop ejected 18 Opposition MPs under rule 94a during question time today. Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke said this was an all-time record for a single session of question time. Those ejected included, for the first time, Melissa Parke. Her offence was quoting from Standing Orders. Speaker Bishop, in her former role as an Opposition MP, quoted parliamentary procedure during question time virtually on a daily basis. Since being appointed as Speaker, a role that is supposed to be impartial, Ms Bishop has ejected 285 MPs, 280 of them Labor members. The situation is so bad the Twitter meme makers can’t keep up with the numbers.
Update: June 2, 2015
Mr Burke moved another motion of dissent from Madam Speaker’s ruling yesterday. The Speaker had ruled a question out of order when the questioner got through the preamble but before the question had been asked.
Here is Mr Burke speaking to his motion of dissent: