In hand: MP Sarah Henderson speaks to colleagues…with a cup of coffee in hand. Photo: Andrew Meares The culprit: The offending coffee cup, hidden behind Christopher Pyne’s feet. Photo: Andrew Meares
Admonished: Henderson departs with her takeaway flat white. Photo: Andrew Meares
The Pulse Live: Stephanie Peatling blogs live from Parliament
A Coalition MP was left sipping from the cup of remorse after she was caught handling a takeaway coffee in the House of Representatives.
As the Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson rushed into the chamber for a division on Wednesday, she forgot to leave her flat white behind.
As she held the cup, the former journalist and lawyer was unaware that she had contravened a rule clearly set out on page 159 of the sixth edition of the House of Representatives Practice.
“Refreshments (apart from water) may not be brought into, or consumed in, the Chamber,” it states.
Ms Henderson has the freedom to wear a tailored safari suit without a tie, to keep her hands in her pockets while she speaks and to discreetly read a newspaper – but a takeaway cup of coffee is a brew too far.
Labor MP Tony Burke quite frankly wasn’t going to let this erroneous breach slide.
He questioned Speaker Bronwyn Bishop about the rules regarding takeaway beverages and she in turn confirmed they were not allowed.
Lucky for Ms Henderson, her colleague Education Minister Christopher Pyne was available to conceal the cup behind his feet.
Ms Henderson said when the division was finished she was able to dash out and finish her “extra strong, extra hot” skim-milk coffee before returning for the next vote.
“There was a genuine oversight in entering the house with my coffee,” Ms Henderson said.
“I was very anxious to get in and vote on our red tape repeal today … I inadvertently carried my coffee in.”
Ms Henderson said she was at least glad her transgression had promoted the “very important small business” Aussies Cafe, which is inside Parliament House.
But perhaps the most infamous breach of the no food and drink rule, was when then Tasmanian MP Harry Quick brought apples into parliament in celebration of National Apple and Pear Day.
He placed a pink lady on the desk of each of his colleagues before Question Time, only to have them returned to his office by the Speaker. He then returned, with a single apple for himself.
“In defiance of what I specifically instructed, he chose to bring an apple into the chamber, and I have asked him, in a lenient act on the part of the Chair, to apologise. His failure to do so will leave me with no choice,” the perturbed speaker announced.
Mr Quick was suspended for 24 hours.
His non-compliance led to the introduction of a specific rule that: “a Member may not distribute apples to other Members in the Chamber”.
Other rules regarding the dress and conduct of members in the chamber include: “climbing over the seats is not fitting behaviour” and one who chooses to toss a piece of paper, must also retrieve it.
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