1. Greens MP Ellen Sandell is no stranger to sexist slurs from male politicians.
“Teach her a lesson, yeah give it to her,” is one of the more common insults that gets thrown at the 31-year-old when she’s speaking in Victoria’s parliament.
Ellen Sandell told BuzzFeed News one of the most upsetting abuse was when she was talking about a park ranger finding a dead cow in the Alpine National Park and Labor MPs yelled, “would have been better if it was a dead Greenie!”
2. “I was giving a speech about public housing and Labor were sledging me. I fired back, ‘this is strange, I thought Labor would really care about public housing,’ and they replied ‘it’s not your ideas we hate, it’s just you!”
Things have gotten so bad, female Labor backbenchers have approached Sandell to say what’s happening is not ok.
3. By the end of a sitting week, Sandell says the heckling takes its toll. “It definitely affects me….it makes you feel depressed.”
Sandell admits there’s a fair amount of argy bargy that comes with being a politician, but she thinks the sexist bullying isn’t reasonable.
4. The insults have gotten so bad, tour guides have stopped letting primary school students in to watch question time.
Parliament tour guides have told the Greens they’ve stopped allowing primary school students into Parliament to watch, because the language is too blue.
“Surely MPs must realise things have gotten pretty bad when our tour guides here at Parliament will no longer allow grade 6 school groups to watch question time because the students get too traumatised by grown men and women yelling and abusing each other”, Sandell told BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed News asked Victorian Parliament if this is an official rule, and they said guides play it by ear, depending on what’s happening in the chamber.
5. One of the reasons Victorian parliament is an insult throwing payground, is because no one is allowed to record videos or images of what happens on the chamber floor.
Despite having a live stream on their website, the Victorian Parliament doesn’t allow anyone to share images or video of what happens in the chamber. Victoria is the only place in Australia where recording or sharing a video or photo of politicians is banned.
Mexican, Indian, US and German Parliaments let their citizens watch and share videos. The UK Parliament has it own YouTube channel.
Anyone who breaks the rules, risks being held in contempt, which for politicians means they could be expelled from the chamber, fined or sent to jail.
Yup. The Victorian Parliament has the power to put politicians in the slammer.
6. Its rules state:
The Victorian Parliament’s contempt powers are based on those of the House of Commons, and thus include the power to reprimand Members or non-Members, to suspend or expel a Member, and to imprison.
However, the power to impose a financial penalty, as can occur in the Commonwealth Parliament (and in Queensland and Western Australia, also by statute) is less certain, given that the House of Commons has not imposed fines since 1666
The archaic rules are inherited from House of Commons in the UK, but they haven’t used them since 1666.
BuzzFeed News asked the Broadcast Department of Victorian Parliament what would happen if someone broke the Web Streaming Terms.
They said the person would be fined or held in contempt of Parliament.
8. Ellen Sandell is working to change the rules, and allow videos of Victorian Parliament to be shared online.
“MPs are worried that people will see the ridiculous jeering and yelling that comes from both sides of the chamber every time I suggest we stop digging up more coal, and instead invest in renewable energy”, she told BuzzFeed News.
“MPs need to realise that people want to be involved in democracy, and they should be able to see it in action.”
The power now lies with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to push for a vote to change the law.