Anthony Albanese accused of bullying female MP in 'Queenslander' rant

·3-min read

A war of words, or at least how to pronounce them, has broken out in Parliament House, with one female MP accusing the prime minister of bullying.

A fiery exchange broke out during Question Time on Thursday when Coalition MP Michelle Landry asked about funding for a project in her regional Queensland electorate of Capricornia.

When responding Anthony Albanese referred to the "Yeppen floodplain" prompting the opposition leader to interject across the chamber, attempting to correct his pronunciation to “Yeppoon".

The prime minister seized on the mistake made by Peter Dutton, who is from Queensland.

Anthony Albanese says he was directing his response at the opposition leader not Coalition MP Michelle Landry. Source: Twitter
Anthony Albanese says he was directing his response at the opposition leader not Coalition MP Michelle Landry. Source: Twitter

“Yeppen floodplain,” Mr Albanese repeated loudly. “Yeppoon is a different place.”

“And you might want to ask the member for Capricornia because Yeppoon is on the coast, north of Rockhampton, and Yeppen floodplain is to the south.”

While the government’s side of the house broke out in applause and cheering, Mr Albanese yelled out, “Queenslander, Queenslander,” a rallying cry made famous by rugby league forward Billy Moore.

“It says it all. I know about Queensland roads.”

MP 'distressed and humiliated'

In the wake of the heated debate, Ms Landry held a press conference alongside more than a dozen female Coalition MPs where she told journalists she’d left Question Time distressed and humiliated.

“I really do not appreciate being spoken to and screamed at by the prime minister as I was today,” she said.

“I asked a question, which I’ve talked to a lot of you about, the ring road in Rockhampton, and I feel that I’ve been humiliated by him and the Labor party.”

The Member for Capricornia, who could be seen laughing during parts of Mr Albanese’s answer in parliament, said the prime minister called her afterwards to say that his comments were directed at Mr Dutton.

But she disagrees.

“He was yelling at me, he was pointing at me. I said, I’ve been humiliated in front of the whole parliament.”

Much of the political media were quick to mock the claim of bullying.

Among them was 2GB's Ben Fordham who rubbished the bullying claims on Friday morning.

"What I saw was not bullying, not in the slightest,” he told listeners.

"What I witnessed in question time yesterday was rigorous debate between two sides of politics. That seems pretty standard behaviour to me."

Channel 10's political editor Peter van Onselen also mocked the assertion of bullying.

"How on earth is this answer bullying, as the PM is now being accused of,” he tweeted.

"He was asked a question, was interjected with a factually inaccurate comment and he dealt with it as he should have. Give me a break."

PM did not show any disrespect, Speaker says

In a statement to the Chamber, the Speaker of the House says he has reviewed the footage and found no case to answer for.

“During the answer [to Ms Landry’s question], the prime minister was also directly responding to interjections from the leader of the opposition,” Milton Dick said.

“I did not see the prime minister show any disrespect to the member for Capricornia.”

Social media users have branded the exchange “great stuff from Albo!”

“Albanese wasn’t attacking her, he was going after Dutton,” one person wrote. “And Michelle was having a good laugh.”

“Nothing to apologise for there,” another said. “Albo rightly wiped the floor with those opposite.”

“How was that bullying,” someone else added, “she even laughed.”

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