GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester was suspended from Parliament yesterday when he re-entered the Chamber after being asked to leave by the Speaker.
He was suspended for 24 hours after Labor MPs protested about him sitting in the public gallery with Gippsland school students after being ejected from the Chamber for one hour earlier in the day.
During Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s response to a question on jobs, Mr Chester interjected: ‘How many power station workers are you going to sack? Why don’t you stand up for Latrobe Valley workers?’
“I don’t apologise for standing up for local workers who will lose their jobs under this Government’s policy but the Speaker instructed me to leave the Chamber under standing order 94a for one hour,” Mr Chester said.
“When I returned to my office I was told a school group from the Latrobe Valley was attending the public gallery and wanted me to visit them.
Mr Chester asserted he spoke to security guards as well as House of Representatives staff whether or not he was allowed in the Chamber’s gallery while suspended for one hour, and was told it was allowed.
“Government Members obviously saw me in the gallery and objected to the Speaker who made the decision to ‘name’ me.
“At no stage was I aware that under the standing orders members are not permitted in the public galleries when they have been suspended. I accept full responsibility for my mistake.”
Under the suspension Mr Chester will not be able to sit in the chamber until after 3pm today.