Question Time frenzy: Five MPs ejected from chamber, Peter Dutton silenced, all-round attacks on Home Affairs Minister continue

Five federal MPs were booted out of Parliament during Wednesday’s aggressive Question Time sitting after a series of outbursts from both major parties on a debate dictated by immigration detention issues.

Among those ejected from the lower house were four Liberal MPs and one Labor backbencher, who Speaker Milton Dick ruled as having created “far too much noise” in the chamber.

From the opposition, shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan, Casey MP Aaron Violi, climate and energy spokesperson Ted O’Brien, and member for Bowman Henry Pike were all removed at different times after repeatedly interrupting Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil in her answers.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Mike Freelander, the member for Macarthur, was asked to leave for loud laughs and shouting out.

“Member for Casey, the minister will pause, has been interjecting throughout Question Time. He will now leave. Whoever is laughing back down there, the member for Macarthur, I’m not sure if it’s you, but there’s far too much noise,” Mr Dick said.

A few minutes later, visibly frustrated, the Speaker directed his attention to Mr O’Brien: “The member for Fairfax had a good go during that answer and he will leave the chamber immediately”.

“It’s not a free-for-all all. People just can’t feel they can say what they want when they want constantly.”

The chamber ejections came as Ms O’Neil continued to come under fire for the federal government’s handling of the recent High Court ruling on indefinite immigration detention.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley first doubled down on criticism that the Home Affairs Minister had “failed to prepare for an expected high court loss and then falsely claimed she was advised she would win”.

Ms O’Neil in response, argued it was not her “preference” any of the detainees be released under bespoke visas as ordered by the high court and that she would commit to re-proposing legislation targeted at preventive detention to parliament.

“We will be able to move through this quite quickly if we get the support and the cooperation of the opposition,” she said.

“But what have we seen since this decision was made? We have seen three weeks of the most shameless politics I have actually ever seen played in this parliament.

“And that included the opposition’s unbelievable action earlier this week, where we brought a proposal to this parliament to… criminalise paedophiles loitering near schools, a pretty uncontroversial proposal, but what did they do? They came in and they voted against it… because they put politics above the safety of the Australian community.”

In yet another fiery moment shortly after, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton pressed Anthony Albanese to answer on why Sirul Azhar Umar, a man sentenced in Malaysia for the murder of a pregnant woman who Mr Dutton labelled a “high-risk offender”, was released into the community.

“Can the Prime Minister update the Australian public what risk there is to them and what detail does he have to give some assurance to the Australian people that this individual will be brought back into custody as soon as humanly possible?” he asked.

Seconds into the PM’s answer, Mr Dutton rose on a point of order, saying “the government refuses to provide detail about whether this person is a sex offender, paedophile, somebody who is involved in serious…”, before he was silenced by the Speaker, had his microphone muted and asked to resume his seat.

In a final blow for the Home Affairs Minister, she was questioned over her involvement in the deportation of Rohingya refugee, known as NZYQ, with Mr Tehan asking whether she signed off on a concession the government put before the high court that agreed “there was no real hope of NZYQ being removed from Australia in the reasonably foreseeable future”.

“I will make no apologies for doing everything within my power to deport this person from our country. I’m not going to apologise for that. In fact, I would say again to the parliament that if I had any legal power…” she replied before being cut off yet again.

The shadow immigration minister interjected 30 seconds into Ms O’Neil’s response, asking for a point of order on relevance.

He then rose to say, “I was just calling for a statement of fact, did the minister…” before an irate Speaker demanded he leave the chamber.

“I gave you a hint that it had to be on relevance and you got up and you said what you wanted to say, so that is an abuse of standing orders, and you continually do that, and you will leave the chamber under 94A,” Mr Dick said.

Mr Tehan proceeded to exit.

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