Gags, dysfunction and complete chaos

The House of Representatives descended into chaos tonight as the Parliament witnessed the extraordinary measures the Government is prepared to take to shut down debate and silence opposing views.

During a debate on significant legislation, the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development moved to gag the Labor Member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, during his second reading speech.

What followed was no less than 12 gag motions moved by the Government, 18 divisions and three suspensions of standing orders, with the Government even moving to shut down the Parliament for the night.

Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke, said: “The Parliament tonight is in chaos.”

During the debate the Speaker engaged in the debate herself, which led Mr Burke to move a dissent motion against the Speaker.

In the Parliament, Mr Burke said it was unacceptable for the Speaker to engage in debate.

“You need to recognise, Madam Speaker, that the office you hold is greater and more important than your own political rhetoric,” he said.

Only seconds into the dissent motion the Government moved to gag the debate on the dissent motion.

Mr Burke said the entire parliamentary system rests on the Speaker being impartial.

“You can’t have a situation where the umpire starts sledging the players,” he said.