NPR's recent news item and podcast Australians Debate What To Do About Climate Change contains the following from NPR's Jason Beaubien reporting from Sydney.

Question: What are Australian parliament's rules on the use of props?

"bonus points" for the name of the unidentified person.

BEAUBIEN: Three years ago, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, back when he was the treasurer, famously brought a softball-sized lump of coal into Parliament and thrust it defiantly in the air.


PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON: Mr. Speaker, this is coal. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The Treasurer knows the rule on props.

MORRISON: It's coal. It was dug up by men and women who work and live in the electorates of those who sit opposite.

BEAUBIEN: Morrison said coal exports is what has made the Australian economy globally competitive. He accused legislators who were pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of stifling Australian jobs, and he also suggested that his opponents suffer from a mental disorder.


MORRISON: Mr. Speaker, those opposite have an ideological, pathological fear of coal. There's no word for coalaphobia (ph) officially, Mr. Speaker, but that's the malady that afflicts those opposite.

BEAUBIEN: Howden, from the Australian National University, says the polarization around climate change has kept the country from moving forward - not just to try to reduce emissions, but to put in place additional coping measures, like beefing up firefighting budgets and bringing in more water-bombing airplanes.

  • @JamesK thanks for the edit and detailed answer, though the asterisks in the title may not be having the desired effect
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 1:01
  • 2
    According to the Hansard, the "unidentified person" is the Speaker, Tony Smith MP.
    – molypot
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


Props are "tolerated but not encouraged" according to the House of representatives Powers and Practices

That site notes that several props have been ruled unparliamentary: Scorecards following a member's speech, signs showing unparliamentary language, and petrol cans have all been ruled to be unacceptable. It is also forbidden to display weapons, though this has not actually happened. In the past newspaper cuttings have been allowed, but recent practice has disallowed this.

On the other hand, a wide range of items have been used as props: from gold nuggets to silicon chips to "ugg" boots.

The rules in the Senate are different. Props are generally not allowed in the Senate.

  • 2
    It is interesting that you mention the Senate as not allowing props when the most appalling and reprehensible example of a prop being used in the Australian Parliament was the far right-wing Senator Hanson using a burka to denigrate Muslim Australians. Luckily it backfired as both sides of the Senate combined to condemn her: abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/… Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 6:20
  • @OrbitalAussie I’m not so sure it backfired, considering that it probably increased the support for her among her base.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 0:21
  • @nick012000. Perhaps that’s true. I nevertheless find it hard to accept that concepts like decency, morality and respect for the dignity of Parliament don’t matter in the end as long as your 3% of whacko voters are happy with you. Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 2:58

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