Labor Senator Stephen Conroy has launched an extraordinary attack on Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, accusing him of “demeaning his office” by agreeing to recall Parliament.
Federal MPs and senators have been brought back early for a special sitting of parliament to deal with the government’s bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Mr Conroy suggested the Governor-General had shown weakness by agreeing to recall parliament for that purpose.
“A strong Governor-General would never have agreed to this,” he told the chamber.
“If the Queen had been asked to interfere in the British Parliament in this way, there is no way on this Earth this would have happened.”
Mr Conroy described the move as a “tawdry political stunt” and accused the Governor-General of interfering in the democratic process.
“What we’ve had today is the ghost of 1975 revisit upon us,” he said. “The long, dead arm of Sir John Kerr crawled out of his grave to participate in a travesty of democracy in this country.”
But, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later called on the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to disassociate himself with Mr Conroy after he launched an attack on Sir Cosgrove over parliament’s recall with “appalling remarks”.
The attack drew interjections from the chamber at the time, and a stern warning from Senate president Stephen Parry, who told Mr Conroy he had “deliberately and adversely” reflected upon the Queen’s representative.
The Governor-General has been approached for comment.