The Governor-General Totally Blanked Tanya Plibersek's Handshake

18/04/2016 10:48 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Fairfax Media

Federal parliamentarians are back in Canberra for a historic "proroguing" that cut short their planned autumn break.

Members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate gathered in the Senate chamber for a rare dual sitting, as Governor-General Peter Cosgrove addressed our politicians to outline why they're back -- to consider the Australian Building and Construction Commission bills -- and remind them of the process.

Following his address, Cosgrove stood and walked to shake the hands of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the deputy PM and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, then crossed over to the other side of the table to shake the hand of Labor leader Bill Shorten... and totally rejected the outstretched hand of deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek.

It was reeeeal awkward.

Plibersek herself took it in good humour, shrugging and grinning. Her Labor colleagues were unhappy about it, though; one called "that says something" in outrage, while another sarcastically told Plibersek to "know your place."

"Veeery clever," called another, as the burble of conversation and laughter grew.

Here's a few photos of the awkward moment:

Though as Guardian reporter Shalailah Medhora pointed out, it may have been more a parliamentary procedural quirk, rather than anything overtly mean.

The Australian has reported the Governor-General is only supposed to shake the hands of the PM, opposition leader and the Speaker, but shook Barnaby Joyce's hand after the deputy PM "was so excited by the moment that he stuck his hand out, and the GG obliged." Fairfax Media also reports the deputy leader of the opposition is not usually officially recognised by the Governor-General, and that Cosgrove simply didn't see Plibersek's outstretched hand.

So, while it looked bad and mean, it seems Cosgrove was only following protocol.

For more on what we can expect today, as the Senate considers the ABCC bills, check out our explainer piece.

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