A tense and feisty question time has rounded out the end of the parliamentary year, with shouting across the chamber in place of festive cheer.
A tense and feisty question time has rounded out the end of the parliamentary year, with shouting across the chamber in place of festive cheer.

Question Time fracas marks end of the year

'Twas the question time before Christmas, when all through the House, pollies were yelling and getting thrown out.

The parliamentary sitting year has wrapped up on Thursday, with the tone far from festive.

Question time was sandwiched between tense scenes, with the House of Representatives unusually shutting up shop for half an hour in the middle of the day.

The reason for the extraordinary event? Confusion over the number of printed copies of a bill - the government's union-busting legislation that was voted down in the Senate a week ago.

Labor tried to use the rules of parliament to delay the government fast-tracking the reintroduced bill, but failed, with it now set for another showdown in the Senate.

The tense mood rolled into question time in the House of Representatives, which roared into gear soon after.

In Prime Minister Scott Morrison's eyes, Anthony Albanese was "captain angry", a Labor leader still peeved at the public because of the May 18 election.

To Mr Morrison, Labor was treating the session as "smear time", a total contrast to government MPs starting questions to their own side, boasting about "having confidence" in Australia.

For Mr Albanese, the prime minister was dodging questions, avoiding parliamentary process and focusing on political points.

The mood slid sharply downhill when Hillsong founder Brian Houston was mentioned, with Mr Morrison asked why he wouldn't reveal whether or not the Australian evangelist was invited to the White House.

The prime minister returned serve, accusing Labor of attacking religion.

The room erupted into a "wall of noise", according to Speaker Tony Smith.

Mr Smith considered making the prime minister withdraw his comments, but instead told the noisy Labor MPs he'd soon start kicking people out of the chamber without warning.

"The level of interjections is ridiculously high," he said, shortly before telling a handful of MPs to leave.

Before the bells rang for the final time in 2019, Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese paused to reflect on the holiday period ahead.

But out on the lawns there arose such a clatter, as Extinction Rebellion youths tried to block roads with a swagger.



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