OUTSPOKEN Liberal senator Ian Macdonald has caused a fashion kerfuffle in parliament – but at least he was wearing a tie.
SENATOR Macdonald rose to speak on the mining tax repeal wearing a fluorescent orange shirt with reflective bands, similar to that worn by miners.
His name was embroidered above one breast pocket while the other side was emblazoned with “australiansforcoal.com.au”. The senator was proud to stand there in solidarity with Australia’s mine workers, he told the chamber. His coalition colleague Bill Heffernan was not so impressed. “This is a bloody commercial message,” he thundered, waving his own high-vis shirt still in its packet. “I’ve told the minerals and mining council to shove this and everyone else should, too.” If that shirt was allowed to be worn in the chamber, what was to stop him rocking up with one labelled “Bill Heffernan – friends of marijuana, friends of Coca-Cola”?
To add to the shenanigans, Greens senator Scott Ludlam sidled up to Senator Macdonald during debate holding up a sign reading “Seriously?”. He was reprimanded for his efforts. The Minerals Council of Australia, which is behind the Australians for Coal website, confirmed it had sent the shirts to all members and senators about two months ago. It was intended to showcase the work of a “fantastic indigenous company” that supplies the mining industry, a council spokesman told AAP. That company’s logo was not evident on the shirt Senator Macdonald wore. Acting deputy senate president Cory Bernardi referred the matter to the president. “I have noticed on occasions in my time here that people have worn scarves, they have worn T-shirts, kilts,” he said. “I have noticed that Senator Macdonald does at least have a tie.”