CANBERRA – The speaker of the House of Commons Bronwyn Bishop is under fire this week for her controversial choice to wear a Liberal Party t-shirt while undertaking her role as Speaker. While unorthodox, the move is not seen as unexpected by either sitting party, following what has now been months of overt partisanship by the Member for Hairspray.
A spokesman for Ms Bishop said there was nothing illegal or improper about the practice, and no official rules appeared to exist about not wearing party branded t-shirts in the Speaker’s chair. Although convention would indicate that a suit or robes were the appropriate dress, the government has explained that this was never a core convention.
Asked about the choice of shirts, Ms Bishop’s spokesman said: “From time to time a Speaker will find themself in the middle of a washing week with no clean clothes to wear, and will be forced to turn up to work wearing whatever is lying around the house. In Bronwyn’s case it just so happens her house is stocked entirely with Liberal Party branded paraphernalia. It’s as simple as that.”
This follows what has already been a tumultuous week for the Liberal government, with the speaker having to repeatedly defend her track rate of only ejecting Labor members from the house. “The Speaker’s office is representative of the Parliament,” Ms Bishop said. “The Parliament is not owned by the government, it’s owned by the people. The people voted for a Liberal government, therefore it would be inappropriate to not over-rule every misconduct complaint made against the party.”
The opposition leader Bill Shorten has called for Mrs Bishop’s resignation over the incident, and has threatened to move a motion of no confidence in the Speaker, just as soon as she lets him back into Parliament House.