28 Mar | '2023

Angie Bell MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Youth
Federal Member for Moncrieff



28 March 2023

Subjects: Behaviour in Parliament


The behaviour of politicians in the spotlight again this morning. Gold Coast Federal MP Angie Bell has launched a complaint about an alleged slur on her family by a Labor MP. It happened in Parliament yesterday. The Member for Moncrieff is the Liberal Party’s first openly gay woman in Parliament, and was talking about the cost of early learning when Victorian MP Sam Rae interjected, but he’s denied yelling the offensive remark, but Angie Bell alleges the comment he made was offensive.

Yesterday during the Private Member’s Motion in the morning, the Member for Hawke was talking about the economy and when it was my time to speak, he consistently interjected across the Chamber. One of the interjections was unfortunately a bit of a slur around my family life, and it wasn’t appropriate, it was below the belt. I just think that it needed to be called out because what we’ve seen actually from the new Government, not new anymore, is this sort of continued pattern of behaviour where they’ve been attacking women on the other side of the chamber.

Firstly, we had the Prime Minister having a go at Michelle Landry a few months ago. We saw Murray Watt just last week in the Senate, have a go at Sarah Henderson, and then the Member for Hawke Sam Rae having a go at me yesterday, and it was time to call it out. So that’s exactly what I did at the end of question time.

What did you think or what did you feel when you heard him say that?

I was in full flight and defending the Coalition’s position as is my role. I was talking about early childhood education, which again is my shadow portfolio role. When I started speaking about the economy and the state of the economy in terms of out-of-pocket costs for parents, it was sort of intimated to me that some people have children for different reasons and other people don’t have children and families look different. I won’t repeat the words that he said, but my colleague, Tony Pasin, the member for Barker certainly heard it very clearly, and you can hear him on the recording having a go at the member for Hawke, saying that, ‘you’ve got to be careful what you say mate, slurs like that will give you a reputation’.

It wasn’t particularly nice and I think that Australians understand around the country that families look different. Some people have children for some reasons, and other people don’t have children for their reasons, and those reasons are broad and wide. It was disrespectful, and the Speaker did make him apologise during question time.

And so, what follow up is there? How do you follow this up? Parliament is like any workplace. What did you do?

Firstly, I wrote a letter to the Speaker outlining my distaste for his comments and the Speaker has made him apologise. He apologized for comments that he made and interjections, he didn’t apologise for the slur. He denied that, which we know in the Chamber, those of us that were there on the other side know what he said. I guess it’s now up to the leadership. It’s up to the Prime Minister to call him out. He has a record across the Parliament over the last few months having been pretty much a bit out of control, I would say, and I think it’s probably time that he was pulled into line.

This one went just a step too far when you start to speak about people’s families. It’s out of bounds. It’s not in order and it’s really up to leadership, that is the Prime Minister to pull his backbencher into line. He also had a go, in his speech, on the Hansard, he had a go at small business people across the nation. He said on the record, that Liberal men haven’t worked a day in their lives, that they inherit businesses and jobs from their fathers, and then they end up in this place because they’re duds at business. That was on the record and I think that’s pretty below the belt too. It also outlines where the Labor Party is in terms of small business across the country, it’s very clear. I was quite disgusted with those comments too.

And, you know, the behaviour of politicians and the workplace conditions of Parliament have really been in the spotlight in recent times. What do you think should happen? You mentioned you’d like the Prime Minister to pull him into line, what do you think should happen to ensure that you know, the Parliament is a safe place to go to work, that you can go to work and not expect to be received slurs against your family and your personal life?

This is what the Jenkins Review was about Sarah, which of course, the Coalition Government put in place and we heard the Prime Minister before the election say that he will rule with a majority, but treat people with respect and this is simply another broken promise from the Prime Minister in a conga line of many.
I think Australians need to be aware that the promises that have been broken are far and wide and just simply cannot trust Labor with its word.

Angie is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just that I support small business operators around the country and I support also families who look different to the mainstream, and that’s pretty much all I have to say on that issue.

That is Member for Moncrieff, Gold Coast based MP Angie Bell there.


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