The first week of parliament has been all about electricity -- the government has been attacking Labor over its call to phase out coal power and claiming the plan would raise prices, Labor is calling for more renewable energy. On Thursday, the government seemed to delight in Wednesday's news that South Australia, which relies massively on renewable energy, experienced rolling blackouts during high heat as power demand outstripped supply.
Then, inexplicably, treasurer Scott Morrison took centre stage and pulled out a lump of coal. No, not a fake prop, a piece of plastic or foam painted black. A literal lump of coal.
"This is coal -- don't be afraid, don't be scared," Morrison roared, while his side laughed and the Speaker of the House chastised him for breaking the established parliament rule against using props.
"It's coal, it was dug up by men and women who work and live in the electorates of those who sit opposite."
The lump, the size of a brick, was then passed behind to deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who seemed delighted. Joyce passed it along to energy minister Josh Frydenberg. It was then passed around the Coalition benches like a football, with a few other members on the backbenches getting to hold the coal in their hands.
We spoke to Morrison's office, who confirmed the coal was legit.
"Yes it is real. It came from a Hunter Valley (NSW) mine," Morrison's spokesperson said.
It sent the parliament, and observers, wild.
Scott Morrison just literally waved a hunk of coal around in Turnbull's face. I'm sure this is exactly how he imagined it would be to be PM.— Tim Watts MP (@TimWattsMP) February 9, 2017
where do you even get a lump of coal at short notice #qt— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) February 9, 2017
they are passing around coal in parliament while the rest of australia is obliterated in a heatwave. good-o.— ben wilkie (@historyben) February 9, 2017
2017 is off to a great start.