UNDER THE FLAG

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Speaker Bronwyn Bishop breaks her duck

Finally breaking her drought, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has kicked out a member of the Coalition during Question Time.

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In the battle of Burke v Bronny, it is a foolhardy punter who would back the manager of opposition business - a mere former unionist and member of the right wing of the NSW Labor Party - against our formidable Speaker.

Only one of these MPs has informed her parliamentary subjects, upon assuming her role, that they would forthwith address her as ''Madam''.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne and Speaker Bronwyn Bishop in discussion as Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke moves a motion to refer the Speaker to the privileges committee, in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 26 May 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Chris cross: Mr Pyne confers with Ms Bishop as Mr Burke moves that the Speaker be referred to the privileges committee over her biased rulings. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Only one possesses the queenly bearing that is the birthright of an upper north shore monarchist whose mother was an opera singer. And only one could, if the occasion required, hunt prey using her stilettoes as tools and then slip them back on her feet to attend the opening night of the ballet.

And yet the opposition has picked a fight with Bronny, and by extension her faithful offsider, the manager of government business Christopher Pyne, and it is a fight which threatens to bleed on throughout the life of the 44th parliament.

Burke claims the Speaker betrays bias in her rulings in question time, and to be sure, it is an uncomfortable truth that she had, until Tuesday, ejected 102 opposition MPs and no government MPs from question time.

But on Tuesday that imbalance was amended when she threw out Queensland Liberal MP Ewen Jones for shouting at the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to speak up.

Earlier in the week, Burke declared her position ''untenable'' and tried to refer the Speaker to the powerful privileges committee over newspaper reports she had used her office - in which she resides at the pleasure of the taxpayer - for a private Liberal party fund-raiser.

As though channelling the prideful fortitude of Bronny herself, the government neither denies this, nor refuses to take a backward step. Pyne, incensed by Labor's slurs on his Speaker, went on the attack instead. He unearthed an ancient media report about 1989-1993 Labor Speaker Leo McLeay, who apparently also once used his office for a fund-raiser.

With the diamond-pure logic only a true politician can summon, Pyne concluded that, given the other side had once done it too, it cannot have been that bad.

Therefore Burke owed Bishop an apology for making a ''false claim based on a falsehood''.

When none was forthcoming, Pyne put the ''adult'' into the Coalition's pre-election promises of grown-up government, and used his side's majority to move a motion forcing Burke to say sorry.

The vote got up, but Burke declined to apologise. Bishop, ever the lady, did not press the point.

Boudica-like, she addressed the House.

''I am a warrior for the people of Australia,'' she declared.

''I hope this salutary lesson will bring about more decorum … so the people of Australia can feel more proud of this place.''

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