CANBERRA -- Treasurer Scott Morrison capped off a wild week in parliament by proudly brandishing a large lump of coal in the House of Representatives last Thursday, during a debate about federal energy policy. On Monday, Labor trolled him right back with a stunt of their own, this time waving around a solar panel.
Morrison's stunt has been criticised in the days since, especially as Australia sweltered through a mind-bending heatwave over the weekend. Tim Watts, the Member for Gellibrand, took the floor on Monday afternoon. He listed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's previous statements on climate change and renewable energy -- including "I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am" in 2009 -- before getting into his party piece.
"This same man, now prime minister, sat in impotent silence at the table of the House of Representatives while his treasurer and deputy prime minister inanely brandished a hunk of coal in the chamber like naughty schoolboys on muck up day," Watts said.
"For Australians who have watched this capitulation in horror, I have a simple message. Labor understands that Australia's future is renewable."
He pulled out a solar panel, an electrical plug trailing behind it.
"That's what it looks like, this what you should be waving around at the dispatch box," Watts said, as the Speaker of the House started speaking over him, giving him an official warning for breaching the rules of the House which ban props.
"We'll call it even," Watts said cheekily.
"The path to the future lies in renewable energy."
Greens MP Adam Bandt tried a stunt of his own less than hour later, holding up his own solar panel during Question Time. Apparently he sourced his own though, with Watts saying it wasn't his.
It prompted the Speaker to issue a warning to all MPs present in the House.
"Last Thursday, an undesirable prop was used here in the house, and this has occurred again today. If you look at the history of our parliamentary debate, this has occurred from time to time. But I'm just giving fair warning now," speaker Tony Smith said.
"This is not going to become a regular occurrence in the house. So, like a game of musical chairs, that's it, and any further repetition of it, I'll need to deal with."
Smith singled out Barnaby Joyce, one of those who seemed most amused by ScoMo's coal stunt.
"I'll say to the Deputy Prime Minister, I find it quite unbecoming for the House, and it's not going to become a regular feature of Question Time," Smith said.