CANBERRA -- As the federal Senate settles in for a long night of debate over voting reform changes, and two separate motions to legislate marriage equality failed due to senators claiming there wasn't enough time to debate them, the upper house still managed to find the time to argue over the correct term for your backside.
Yes, as the Australian Senate prepares for a mammoth next day or so -- Greens leader Richard Di Natale half-joked to journalists that pizzas had been ordered and coffee machines checked for efficiency -- Labor's Stephen Conroy and Doug Cameron argued with Liberal Senator James McGrath whether "bum" or "bottom" was the most parliamentary term.
Conroy was in the midst of an impassioned speech opposing the Senate voting changes, which would make it much harder for minor parties to be elected to the upper house, when it began:
CONROY: "If I get elected, I consider it a privilege. I don't think I'm entitled to be here, unlike those in the crossbench, who think they're entitled to red leather under their bums."
CONROY: "Oh please. Seriously?"
MCGRATH: "What about bottom? I think bottom might be more parliamentary. I prefer bottoms. Bottoms rather than bums."
CAMERON: "Bottom is a Pommie thing... bums is OK."
Yes, really, this is what our Senators are paid upwards of $200,000 to do. Conroy later used "bum" as he continued his speech, and was not reprimanded -- so, the Senate thinks "bum" is alright.
It is just the latest nutty episode in an increasingly nutty week in the Senate.
The voting changes will be debated and argued long into the night. Strap in.Suggest a correction