In a surprising turn, the Labor Leader of the House, Yvette D’Ath, moved yesterday for South Brisbane MP Amy MacMahon to be found in contempt of Parliament. The action was spurred by Dr MacMahon’s introduction of a Bill to raise revenue from increased gas royalties to fund a $500 cost-of-living payment for Queenslanders. Under the constitution, Bills raising revenue and appropriating expenditure cannot be introduced without the message from the Governor.

In response to the Minister’s motion, Dr MacMahon has been banned from the Parliamentary precinct for the upcoming sitting on 15 November.

The drama did not end there, as Minister D’Ath moved for another MP, Michael Berkman, to be found in contempt. This move referred to Mr Berkman’s failure to apologise for his statement during a debate on the Strengthening Community Safety Bill, where he claimed the government was “proudly locking up children.”

Mr Berkman, standing his ground, has also refused to apologise and now faces referral back to the ethics committee to determine the potential penalty.

Dr MacMahon has announced that she will spend today volunteering with a local food service, Community Friends, and organising a free dinner for vulnerable constituents.

Amy MacMahon notice that she is spend today volunteering with a local food bank, Community Friends, and organising a free dinner for vulnerable constituents
Amy MacMahon on Instagram

“I’m not going to apologise for trying to make multinational gas corporations and the big banks fund cost-of-living relief for Queenslanders. I was elected to get in here and fight tooth and nail for everyday Queenslanders, and that’s exactly what I’ve done,” Dr MacMahon said.

She expressed frustration with the political system, claiming it penalises those who stand up to big corporations and genuinely fight for the people.

“Politicians consistently show nothing but contempt for everyday people, so why should we respect them and their rules?”.

The Speaker initiated the Ethics Committee referrals, which cited Dr MacMahon’s proposed Bill to increase gas royalties and Berkman’s failure to withdraw his interjection during the debate as grounds for investigation.

Mr Berkman said he will not apologise for “Telling the truth about this Labor State Government proudly locking up more children while underfunding schools, housing and community services. “

“This is about my comments during debate on a bill that suspended the Human Rights Act to imprison more children for longer periods, including children as young as 10 years old.”

“Since then, the Queensland Government has overridden the Act again to allow children to be held in adult prisons and police watch houses and to suspend their human rights protections while they are there.”

“These major party politicians treat their jobs like some juvenile game, but we’re in here talking about people’s actual lives. The Greens will never apologise for that.”

The Courier Mail reported that the last suspension of an MP from Parliament occurred in 2014 when former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, then an Opposition MP representing South Brisbane, was ejected for three sitting days.

Cover image by Jan Bowman