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That’s It, You’re Out: Disorderly Conduct In The House Of Representatives

The 43rd Parliament was the most disorderly in the history of the Australian Parliament, according to statistics compiled by the Parliamentary Library.

A research paper written by Rob Lundie and published today by the Parliamentary Library shows that 27.4% of the 1,093 members of the House of Representatives between 1901 and the end of the 43rd Parliament in August were named and/or suspended or ‘sin binned’ for disorderly conduct.

There were 1,352 instances of disorderly behaviour identified in the official Hansard record of parliamentary proceedings. The paper uses four criteria for measuring disorderly behaviour:

  1. number of disciplinary actions
  2. number of sitting weeks in which a member was disciplined
  3. number of days when four or more members were disciplined
  4. number of different members disciplined

On this basis, the two parliaments of the Rudd and Gillard governments (42nd & 43rd) were more disorderly than the four parliaments of the Howard governments (38th, 39th, 40th & 41st). But these six parliaments since 1996 have been the most disorderly since 1901.

The most disorderly was the 43rd parliament during the period of the minority government led by Julia Gillard and on its final sitting day by Kevin Rudd.

The paper shows that 90% of disorderly behaviour occurs during Question Time and in the parliamentary proceedings which often take place during or just after it.

Frontbenchers and other office holders account for 57% of all instances of disorderly behaviour. Opposition members are sanctioned 90% of the time, regardless of which party is in government.

Liberal Party member Christopher Pyne is the most disciplined member of the House (45 times), compared to the ALP’s Anthony Albanese (34).

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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