Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Liberal National Party embarrassed as MPs go missing in Parliament

The LNP has suffered its greatest embarrassment since Campbell Newman became leader after none of the party's MPs showed up to do the job they are paid to do - consider proposed laws on behalf of their constituents.

The 31 Opposition seats in Parliament sat empty for at least 15 minutes yesterday in extraordinary scenes seen only once before over the past two decades. Premier Anna Bligh seized on the no-show to pass three new laws in nine minutes without debate, while accusing the LNP of one of the most "embarrassing parliamentary performances" in Westminster history.

Several LNP MPs eventually filed back into the House, but still they did not contribute to the debate or attempt to slow the passage of the legislation while the missing MPs returned.
The Gold Coast's Jann Stuckey was the last listed LNP MP to speak in the chamber before the mass exodus, but insisted she "could not recall" if she was the last to leave. The furore came after the passing of a criminal organisation amendment Bill, Commonwealth Games legislation and laws to change public holidays in Queensland.

As MPs yesterday scrambled to explain their unorthodox absence, Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney blamed the Government for the bungle, insisting the ALP had deceitfully told the LNP there would be an hour of other business before debating began.

Commonwealth Games spokesman John-Paul Langbroek and shadow attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie insisted they were caught unawares upstairs in their offices. Bruce Flegg, who as education spokesman had carriage of the public holiday Bill for the Opposition, said he was busy at Mr Newman's press conference in Milton. "This is a matter that's going to have to be dealt with in the party room," he said. Ted Malone, whose shadow industrial relations portfolio would also have been affected by the public holidays Bill, was not even in Brisbane.

Mr Malone said he had headed out of the city for a policy meeting but declined to give further detail. Opposition Whip Ian Rickuss is paid an extra $16,000 a year - and has the option of a car - to ensure members are present for important votes.

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