Senator MacDonald has caused some consternation in parliament by donning fancy dress to demonstrate his support for the mining industry.
The furore erupted during a senate debate on the repeal of the mining tax, which passed through the Senate and has been sent back to the House of Representatives with amendments.
The amendments seek to protect to School Kids Bonus, low income superannuation contributions and the income support bonus, each of which are linked to revenue from the mining tax.
The government indicated last night that it would not approve the amended bill.
The unamended bill back has been sent back to the Senate this morning for another vote.
During debate last night MacDonald wore a personalised high-viz shirt in the Senate last night and declared himself to be “a proud supporter of the Australians for coal industry”.
Greens senator Scott Ludlam moved to a seat behind MacDonald and held up a sign which read ‘SRSLY!’ which caused the acting deputy president Bernardi to call Ludlam to order.
“Senator Ludlam, you have acted in the most disorderly manner by using a prop, as a stunt during a senator's speech. Return to your place, Senator Ludlam. What you have done is completely inappropriate. It is disorderly. It has no place in this chamber,” Bernardi said.
Coalition senator Bill Heffernan attempted to rise on a point of order, to object to senator MacDonald’s wearing of the shirt.
“I would like to express my strong objection to the conduct of this chamber and the production of this bloody commercial message without my permission. This is a protocol issue,” Heffernan said, waving a similar shirt still sealed in its packaging.
“I support the mining industry too but my point of order is it sets a precedent and the next thing we are going to have is 'Bill Heffernan: friend of marijuana' or 'Bill Heffernan: friend of Coca-Cola' without my permission.
“I’ve told the Minerals and Mining Council to shove this and everyone else should, too.”
Senator Moore suggested that the shirt may have had advertising material on it, to which MacDonald inferred it did not.
"This is a very colourful and well-fitting outfit I am wearing. As for advertising, perhaps I am advertising myself here where it says, 'Ian Macdonald'. Here on the other side, it says in very, very small letters, 'Australians for coal'. I am not sure which company that is that is being advertised. When you are referring this to the President, could you please alert him to the fact that there is no advertising on this wonderful garment I am wearing," he said.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) sent the personalised ‘Australians for Coal’ shirts out to parliamentarians in May, together copies of the pro-coal sector publication ‘Coal Hard Facts’.
A spokesperson for the MCA said the shirts were not sent for the purpose of wearing in parliament.
UPDATE: Senator MacDonald told Australian Mining that the unamended mining tax bill has been returned to the Senate, and will be dealt with this evening before the senators leave.
He also said he will not be wearing the shirt in parliament this evening, as it has been ruled by the president that wearing the shirt would contravene standing orders against advertising.
“If that is against the standing orders, I don’t know what we’re going to do about all the lapel badges we’ve been wearing in parliament over the years,” he said.
MacDonald said that he does not support the amendments in the mining tax repeal bill.
“We don’t have $16 billion from the mining tax for these expenditures, that’s something that Clive Palmer doesn’t understand,” he said.