Australia’s new free trade agreement with the UK took up most government MPs’ questions, and was lauded by Trade Minister Dan Tehan as the “most comprehensive” signed with any country other than New Zealand.
But Speaker Tony Smith struggled to bring the opposition benches under control when Mr Tehan used a select quote from National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson.
“We applaud Trade Minister Dan Tehan and our negotiating team on the outcomes,” he told the opposition benches as they burst into sarcastic applause.
“It was very nice of Fiona, wasn’t it? Very nice of Fiona.”
Josh Frydenberg was also forced to withdraw a comment dismissing opposite number Jim Chalmers as “the shadow of the Shadow Treasurer”, after being pressed on the May budget, which assumed monthly week-long lockdowns until the end of the year.
“Hasn’t Treasury been forced into these assumptions due to the Government’s failures on vaccines and quarantine?” he asked.
Mr Frydenberg said the unemployment rate was lower than when the Coalition took office, despite “the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression”, and the budget tipped to fall even further.
Camera IconChris Bowen MP holds up a solar panel during Question Time. Martin Ollman / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconMr Bowen was channelling Scott Morrison who, as treasurer, brought a lump of coal to parliament. Credit: Supplied
“The reality is this Budget was predicated on the fact the pandemic is still with us,” he said.
“The pandemic is still with us because you failed!” Mr Chalmers interjected.
Soon after question time ended, Labor climate change spokesman Chris Bowen mimicked Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an attack on the government over clean energy policy.
As Treasurer in 2017, Mr Morrison brandished a lump of coal in parliament, telling the opposition, “This is coal; don’t be afraid, don’t be scared.”
Waving a solar panel, Mr Bowen said Australia “can do so much better” than the one solar manufacturer it currently boasted.
“This is renewable energy; don’t be afraid of it, don’t run away from it, don’t be scared of it,” he said.