Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he was disappointed by the actions of a Liberal senator accused of making growling sounds towards independent senator Jacqui Lambie.
Labor and Greens MPs called out an unnamed Coalition senator in question time on Tuesday, accusing them of growling and making dog noises towards Senator Lambie.
Liberal senator David Van later owned up to the interjection but denied the characterisation of the sounds.
“I do regret the interjections and I apologise to Senator Lambie and to the Senate unreservedly,” he said.
Tuesday’s incident came just hours after the release of a damning report on sexual harassment and sexism in parliament. It found 40 per cent of women working in federal politics have experienced sexual harassment – and nearly two-thirds of female politicians have been harassed.
On Wednesday, Mr Morrison said he expected all parliamentarians to uphold the standards of parliament.
“These are things that all parliamentary leaders continue to have to uphold the standards of and I expect that of my team and I was very, very disappointed – extremely,” he said.
Mr Morrison said he had not spoken to Senator Van, and learned of the allegations only on Tuesday night.
He also then took aim at Labor for interjections across the chamber during a fiery question time in the lower house on Tuesday where Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Peter Dutton went toe-to-toe.
In one heated exchange, Mr Albanese called Mr Dutton a “boofhead”, while Mr Dutton lashed back with a “glass jaw” accusation at the Labor leader.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who was the first person to call out Senator Van’s interjections in the chamber, said the apology was a step in the right direction.
“But the problem is that this behaviour persists and it’s normalised,” she told the ABC.
“This is just one example of the toxic engagement that happens on the floor of the parliament and in the corridors and in the offices.
“It’s not acceptable, it can’t be going on. People need to use their heads a bit better, consider their behaviour and take responsibility.”