Strange Politics: Question Time still a seething snake pit

AN AWKWARD encounter went down this week while Derryn Hinch squeezed in a siesta and a rather one-eyed conservative senator poked sticks at Sam Dastyari for copping free travel expenses.

Federal Parliament is back in venomous action and by jingo, it is just as bitter and mean as last time around.

Fringe-dwelling Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi had a blast when news broke of Labor's Dastyari getting a Chinese donor to foot a $1670.82 bill after blowing out his travel allowance.

"It has the stench of corruption," Bernardi thundered.

He was asked to withdraw after inquiring who fronted the bill for Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong's home loan.

"I pay my mortgage and don't be grubby," she seethed with daggers in her eyes.

The Dastyari jab was a fair call, especially considering the latest revelation he had defied Labor policy and told a press conference for Chinese media Australia should respect the superpower's hostile position in the South China Sea.

But Bernardi was eerily quiet about the Independent Commission Against Corruption a day earlier finding up to 20 former Liberal MPs tried to evade political donation laws in the lead-up to the 2011 New South Wales election.

Plenty of crotchety taunts were thrown around Parliament House this week, not least from Treasurer Scott Morrison who reminded those opposite: "You lost the election, buddy."

Morrison somehow stifled the urge to click his heels in glee after that hot take, although a swaggering smirk betrayed his satisfaction.

But it could not all be fireworks and sniping.

Politicians occasionally have to eat, perform their ablutions and catch up for social interaction.

This mostly happens behind closed doors, but the cameras were rolling when Tony Abbott and Pauline Hanson shared a (call me a cynic) teensy-bit contrived peace offering on Wednesday.

The duo, more accustomed to burying the hatchet between each other's shoulder blades, sat down on a nondescript couch to exchange olive branches.

"Pauline, there are half a million people who voted for you, and you'll be a strong voice for their concerns," our former prime minister declared, hands wagging aflutter as Public Speaking 101 suggests.

"Yeah I know, I've got a big job ahead of me for the next six years," Hanson replied.

The pair agreed they both hoped for a "constructive parliament".

This must be that mythical bipartisanship everyone talks about.

Poor old Derryn Hinch had one of history's more cringe-worthy entries to parliament, caught snoozing on the taxpayers' dime just a day after calling for photographers to be allowed take pictures of dozing, nose-picking parliamentarians in the Senate.

He took his shame like a champ and used it to bolster his push for mid-senate happy snaps.

And as proof you really can bet on anything, Sportsbet is offering odds on when Hinch will next be filmed having a kip.

Senate Question Time is the favourite at 3-1, but the longest shot is "during a Leigh Sales interview" paying $101 to the dollar.


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