A Victorian Labor backbencher has apologised for acting “inappropriately” when he gave the finger to an opposition member in Parliament.
Roma Britnell and colleagues asked lower house speaker Colin Brooks to review footage from the chamber on Thursday, claiming Labor MP Hong Lim flipped the bird at her during question time.
Ms Britnell said Mr Lim later yelled and pointed his finger at her in a parliament elevator.
The Labor MP issued a statement admitting he did “act inappropriately in the chamber”.
“And for that I apologise,” he said.
“I can also confirm that I had a verbal disagreement with the Member for South West Coast. We were both involved in this robust discussion.”
Before the apology, Ms Britnell told reporters Mr Lim had attacked her because she asked for his behaviour in the chamber to be reviewed.
“I was just shocked at the way he was attacking me – he was yelling at me, he was screaming at me, he was putting his finger in my face, he was pushing himself forward towards me,” she said.
“I was locked in the lift, I was actually really shaken.”
Ms Britnell said Mr Lim accused her of picking on him “for being a Chinaman and an old man” after she said she was disappointed by what he did in the chamber.
In his statement, the Labor MP said he had often been the victim of racism and ridicule.
“That includes making fun of my accent and the way I pronounce certain words,” he said.
‘Dirtiest political trick I have ever seen’
Meanwhile, the Victorian opposition has reneged on parliamentary pairing arrangements to vote down the government’s controversial bill to split the Country Fire Authority, a move Labor and crossbench MPs described as “unprecedented” and a dirty “political trick”.
Liberal MPs Bernie Finn and Craig Ondarchie were provided a pairing for religious reasons, but walked back into the Legislative Council on Good Friday to vote against the changes.
The pairing agreement meant two Labor MPs – Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford and Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis – had abstained from the vote.
Attorney General Martin Pakula accused the Coalition MPs of hiding in their offices until Ms Pulford and Mr Dalidakis left Parliament.
“This is totally unprecedented. Two Liberal MP’s asked for [what turned out to be] fake pairs for ‘religious observance’. They hid in their offices till Labor MP’s who paired them left the building. They then snuck back in for the vote. Never ever happened before,” he tweeted.
Reason MP Fiona Patten, who voted in support of the bill, labelled it “the dirtiest political trick I have ever seen in my 20 years around parliaments”.
“It started with Bernie Finn getting up saying that he felt physically sick working on Good Friday while Craig Ondarchie sat eyes closed praying saying it was his most religious day,” she said in a statement to AAP.
“They have completely lost the trust and respect of the crossbench.”
Opposition leader Matthew Guy praised the two MPs on social media and later accused the Labor government of trying to sneak the bill through Parliament on Good Friday.
“Daniel Andrews tried to sneak through a bill to tear apart our CFA on Good Friday and it has been voted down in the parliament,” he said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Guy said it was inappropriate for Parliament to be debating on the religious holiday.