Liberal MPs apologise for injuring attendant in rush to avoid vote, after being reprimanded – ABC News

Liberal MPs apologise for injuring attendant in rush to avoid vote, after being reprimanded - ABC News

Speaker of the House Milton Dick has read the riot act to a group of Coalition MPs, saying he was “disgusted” after they injured a female House attendant while trying to avoid a vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor, Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie, Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan, Shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister Ted O’Brien, former deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien, and backbenchers Zoe McKenzie and Sam Birrell all took to their feet after the dressing down to apologise on Wednesday morning.

The lower house had been voting on a government bill on income-management policies when the incident occurred, with some Coalition MPs barrelling their way towards one of the exits.

Mr Dick said he had ordered the doors to the House of Representatives to be locked, as is the procedure during a parliamentary vote, but some Opposition MPs tried to force their way through a door that a House attendant was trying to close.

“After the Speaker orders the doors to be locked, no Member may enter or leave the chamber until after the division, it does not matter whether the doors have been able to be fully closed,” the Speaker said.

“The most serious aspect of this incident is that members physically pushed their way past the attendant to get out of the chamber, resulting in them getting hit in the doorframe and hurting their arm. 

“I’m particularly disgusted by this behaviour, and I will not tolerate it.”

The Speaker said he had received a written report about the incident.

“For a staff member of this place to be treated in this way, when they are simply doing their job, is disrespectful and a very serious matter,” Mr Dick said.

“I want to make it clear that I’m committed to ensuring that this building and this chamber are safe and respectful places of work for all. 

“No staff members should be hurt in the course of doing their work in service of this House. 

“We all know that members are busy, however I’m sure we would all agree that no member’s time is worth more than a staff member’s safety.”

Angus Taylor, a man wearing a white shirt and dark suit, speaks while standing in front of an Australian flag
Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor was one of the MPs who apologised.(ABC News)

Apologies from MPs

One by one, the offending Coalition MPs stood up to apologise to the House.

“I also apologise unreservedly to you and the House for attempting to leave after the doors were to be locked,” Andrew Hastie said.

“And I particularly regret any issues with the staff member involved, and I apologise to her unreservedly.”

Former deputy speaker Llew O’Brien paid tribute to parliamentary staff in offering his apologies.

“Our staff here in the chamber do an incredible job — and one of them is not crowd control — and I apologise to them for that,” Mr O’Brien said.

Behaviour in Federal Parliament has been subject to significant scrutiny in recent years, with a report by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins raising serious concerns about the culture in the building.

On Monday afternoon, Liberal frontbencher Angie Bell accused Labor MP Sam Rae of casting a slur on her family — an allegation Mr Rae vehemently denied, while conceding he had been interjecting during debate.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley was quick to walk across the House in an attempt to reprimand Mr Rae, with Leader of the House Tony Burke praising his backbench colleague for refusing to engage.


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