The final day of parliament before the budget has erupted in debate over Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s bias, but the government rallied to her defence.
Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has fended off a no-confidence motion after attracting Labor’s ire for banning a frontbencher for 24 hours.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus was punted from the chamber on Thursday – the final day of parliament before the six-week pre-budget break – after he called out “Madam Speaker” in an exasperated tone over a ruling relating to the prime minister.
The government voted to suspend Mr Dreyfus from parliament for 24 hours after the Speaker “named” him.
The incident riled the Labor opposition, which has become increasingly frustrated over Mrs Bishop’s perceived bias in her question time rulings.
Manager of opposition business Tony Burke used the wording of a successful 1949 no-confidence motion in Deputy Speaker Clark, in which he was described as showing “serious partiality” and “constantly fails to interpret correctly the standing orders of the House”.
Among her sins had been throwing out a Labor MP for laughing, ejecting 98 Labor members and not one coalition MP, allowing name-calling and ignoring time limits on answers from ministers.
Mr Burke said Mrs Bishop, who has been in parliament for 27 years, was respected as a formidable MP who could launch “scathing and effective attacks”.
“But we cannot support you continuing to behave that way when you want to sit in the Speaker’s chair,” he said.
House leader Christopher Pyne defended Mrs Bishop, saying Mr Burke clearly had been working up to the motion since the 44th parliament began.
“The fact that this is a stunt … is so clearly indicated by the fact the manager of opposition business came into the chamber with a prepared speech,” he said.
Mr Pyne said Tony Abbott had been criticised in the previous parliament by Labor for having “trouble with strong women” – such as Julia Gillard and then-speaker Anna Burke – but Mr Dreyfus had made a habit of bullying Mrs Bishop.
He accused Labor of being rude, aggressive and “behaving quite intolerably badly towards a woman in the chair”.
Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan supported the government in fending off the suspension motion, while Greens MP Adam Bandt sided with Labor.
A spokesman for Mrs Bishop told AAP she remained confident of her position and took heart at the vote from the two independents as well as phone calls of support after the debate.
On her return to the office she had a cup of tea, followed by a meeting with the Solomon Islands high commissioner and the French ambassador.
Mr Abbott, who this week marked 20 years in parliament, told reporters he had faced tough decisions by Speakers but MPs had to cop it.
“I was ejected back in 2000 when I called the then leader of the opposition Mr Beazley a sanctimonious windbag,” he said.
“I happen to have a much higher opinion of Mr Beazley now that he’s our ambassador in Washington.”