While driving home this evening I heard on the ABC news an item regarding a gesture Julian McGauran made this afternoon in the Senate Chamber. As luck would have it, I was in the public gallery at the time and I too noted the gesture, much to my disbelief.
Apparently Sen. McGauran was not censured as the Deputy President found that the gesture was (from memory, quoting the soundbite) “unseemly but not obscene”. Crazy! I never knew that such gestures were covered by parliamentary privilege.
I’m very tempted to return to the public gallery tomorrow while the Senate is in session to show my support for McGauran by gesturing at the floor with wild and gay abandon.
Bob Brown has a media release on this event.
(Ok, ok: there was a wee bit of context. Bob Brown had just followed on from Senator Andrew Bartlett and continued the latter’s complaint that insufficient notice of leave was granted, or something to that effect. A motion was then moved, the result disputed, and a division called. The other Senators took their sweet time entering the chamber. When the doors were locked, McGauran was set to tally the nays and (I think?) Ruth Weber tallied the Is. Weber counted her 31 people without much ado but McGauran took forever to count the nays. He started to be heckled by the ALP senators — John Faulkner calling him a clown, demanding a Government whip who could count to ten, the slow speed to be recorded in Hansard, etc etc. From memory it may have been Kim Carr who then said something as McGauran walked back to his seat, causing him to make the gesture. One of the other ALP senators asked if it was OK to use two fingers. I got fed up with the slow pace of the whole thing and left. I wish I’d stuck around!)