Stephen Conroy accuses Governor-General Peter Cosgrove of 'political stunt' over Parliament recall

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).

Senator 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."

Senator 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."

The attack drew interjections from the chamber and a stern warning from Senate president Stephen Parry, who told Senator Conroy he had "deliberately and adversely" reflected upon the Queen's representative.

The Governor-General has been approached for comment.

 

Governor-General criticised for snubbing handshake

The Governor-General was also criticised following an awkward exchange with Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek this morning.

Protocol required him to shake hands with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, President of the Senate Stephen Parry and Lower House Speaker Tony Smith when departing the Upper House.

But his actions raised eyebrows when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce offered his hand and received a handshake, while Ms Plibersek was snubbed when she did the same.

The ABC understands the Governor-General did not see Ms Plibersek put out her hand, and later called her to explain.

Ms Plibersek described the incident as a storm in a teacup, but others criticised the exchange.

Labor senator Sue Lines shouted across the chamber at the time of the exchange, telling the Governor-General to "know your place".

Senator Lines later tweeted that the lack of handshake was "disgraceful".

Bill Shorten admonishes frontbencher Stephen Conroy over criticism of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slapped down his frontbench colleague Stephen Conroy over his Senate tirade against the Governor-General.

Senator Conroy accused Sir Peter Cosgrove of "demeaning his office" by allowing a special recall of the Parliament.

"The Governor-General has one of the most important roles in our democracy and that should be respected by everyone," Mr Shorten said.

"This was intemperate and unnecessary.

"Senator Conroy should confine his remarks to the Government."

Senator Conroy had delivered the sustained attack in the Upper House this morning.

"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."

Senator 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."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had earlier called on Mr Shorten to distance himself from Senator Conroy's remarks.

"Not for the first time, Senator Conroy has disgraced himself," Mr Turnbull said.

"I look forward to the Leader of the Opposition publicly disassociating himself from those appalling remarks."

The Governor-General has been approached for comment.

Source: ABC News

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