Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove ignored Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek’s attempt to shake hands at a joint session to recall the parliament on Monday.
Plibersek moved back to make way for Cosgrove as he came towards the Opposition table so that he can greet Shorten. After he was done, she came forward to shake hands with him which he declined to acknowledge.
A Labor colleague could be heard in the background commenting sarcastically at the awkward moment. “Tanya, know your place!” News.com.au quoted the leader as saying. Plibersek told News.com.au that she is absolutely relaxed despite the snub. Her spokesperson said that Cosgrove had called her but declined to disclose what he said. “Ms. Plibersek’s position is that no apology is necessary and that the whole thing’s a storm in a teacup,” the Mail Online quoted the spokesman as saying.
The spokesperson added that Plibersek was not offended at all.
Cosgrove shook hands with the leaders of the major parties, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and said “hello” to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. The ABC reported that the Governor-General is only required to shake hands with the prime minister, the opposition leader and the senate leader.
Although Cosgrove did not require to halt his official duties to interact with the politicians on the Senate floor, the refusal to shake hands with Plibersek was condemned by many.
The rare joint session of the parliament, in which Cosgrove was to deliver an official political speech as a representative of the Queen, was attended by all the 150 members.
Turnbull discontinued the parliament mid-session to allow it to consider the reforms proposed by the Australian Building and Construction Commission. A double-dissolution election on July 2 will be held if the legislation is not passed.