Aussie's meow minister over broadband deal

Aussies are no pussies when it comes to letting a minister have it during a heated parliamentary exchange.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is in hot water after pledging support to NBN chief executive Mike Quigley, who is overseeing the building of Australia’s $36 billion national broadband network.

Quigley used to be head of the telecommunications equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent, which was fined $137 million (US) for paying bribes to government officials in Costa Rica and other countries to secure contracts. Quigley has denied doing anything wrong.

Conroy had to face the ire of one of the self-styled “annoying interjectors” in Aussie politics, Liberal senator Julian McGauran who came up with one of the most annoying noises he could think of.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, throughout Conroy’s reply McGauran “meowed”.

This apparently upset his frontbench colleague Marise Payne who thought he was meowing at her and the retiring senator had to explain the catcall was directed only at Senator Conroy and the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Development and Employment was not at all catlike, even if she was a bit ginger looking.

Meowing has become the “planking” of Aussie politics. Liberal senator David Bushby was forced to apologise to Finance Minister Penny Wong after he “meowed” at her during a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra. We are not sure where it comes from. It might have something to do with being able to lick your own genitals.

Still, it is a bit tame. Gone are the days of brawling MPs, the worst you do these days, down under is the odd cat call.