Parliament has erupted in a state of chaos as a hoard of confused politicians bucked Covid-19 rules and paraded across the chamber floor.
Speaker of the House Andrew Wallace capped off a messy first week in his new role with a spectacular mincing of words that sent MPs into a frenzy of confusion.
Liberal MP Bridget Archer asked the politicians to cast a vote on whether to suspend standing orders so that the house could debate a proposed federal integrity commission bill from independent MP Helen Haines.
Mr Wallace incorrectly declared the vote had passed, despite the fact that an absolute majority had not voted in favour – as is needed to pass a proposal to suspend standing orders.
“A lot of us are confused,” Queenslander Bob Katter called out.
After a tense back-and-forth debate over how to fix the Speaker’s mistake, the house agreed to scrap longstanding Covid restrictions and switch sides to vote.
Before the pandemic, politicians would walk to either side of the Speaker’s chair to indicate their vote.
This was suspended after the outbreak of Covid-19 to prevent the spread of the virus.
But as MPs discarded the restrictions on Thursday, the chamber bustled and roared once again as the gaggle of confused politicians walked across the green carpet.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese took delight in the chaos, sitting smuggly in the Prime Minister’s chair as his colleagues giggled and cheered.
“You look good in it,” one Labor MP said.
Ms Archer broke ranks from the Liberals by trying to get the house to debate an integrity bill, snubbing Scott Morrison’s vocal opposition.
The vote was narrowly defeated.
The Liberals have spruiked their own version of ICAC, but the proposal has been marred by three years of delays and has been criticised by many for being “toothless” and “weak”.
Ms Archer has indicated that if Dr Haines’ bill makes it to a vote, she will cross the floor of parliament again and snub her own party to vote in favour of it.
After the ordeal came to an end and the house settled down, Ms Archer and Dr Haines headed out of the chamber hand-in-hand.
Dr Haines praised Ms Archer for her daring act, hailing the Liberal MP for her “bravery” in going against her own party to follow her personal moral compass.
“Bridget Archer today walked across the aisle for the single most important thing that any Parliamentarian could do,” Dr Haines said.
“She walked across the aisle to vote for integrity in this Parliament. She walked across the aisle to make sure that her constituents knew, that the nation knew, that she stands for accountability, transparency, decency and honour in Parliament.
“She truly is a hero.”
The Independent MP then turned her attention to the chaos of Parliament.
“In the Parliament today, we saw mass confusion,” she said.
“This Parliament is now out of the hands of the government, who are supposed to be in control.
“They did not know what to do next and they did not know what to do next because they have no conviction to instigate a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption into this.”
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( Information from news.com.au was used in this report. To Read More, click here )