Ministers present in parliament on Friday were startled to see a black George Brandis-shaped blob enter the chamber and assume Senator Brandis’s usual seat.
Although Senator Brandis appeared to give extensively detailed responses to every question put to him during the day, nothing he said was audible and no record of any of his statements was entered into Hansard.
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, chairing the session, seemed flustered and unsure how to handle the situation, initially requesting Senator Brandis speak louder, then asking him to write his responses on placards and hold them up.
In every case, however, his communication was indiscernible.
A representative from Senator Brandis’s office later stated that anything the Senator said or wrote could potentially contain information of national importance and that the Senator had taken a bold step to ensure the security of his country.
“This is an extraordinary abuse of parliamentary process,” stated Greens Senator Penny Wright after attempting to question Mr Brandis on new anti-terrorism laws and not receiving any answers.
“As grating as I often find the Senator’s responses, he is under some obligation to give them when debating legislation in the House.”
Members of the Liberal party seemed amused at Mr Brandis’s new state of redaction, although the Senator later ran into trouble when attempting to order his lunch at the Parliament House dining room, eventually resorting to the art of mime to communicate his request.
Despite the operational difficulties imposed by the situation, Greens senator Scott Ludlum later seemed to warm to it, raising an unusual motion in the afternoon session.
“I move that any senator not voting ‘Aye’ to this motion is an idiot and admits that he is an idiot and that he is descended from a long line of idiots.”
The resultant chorus was punctuated by a frantic dancing from Senator Brandis and the eventual employment of carefully chosen hand motions to communicate his response to Senator Ludlum, who noted that the motion was passed with one abstention.
Requests for an official statement on the matter from Senator Brandis did not produce a response (as far as we could tell).