Narky moment doctor turned carbon neutral warrior who defeated Josh Frydenberg berates Coalition MPs for not wearing masks in Parliament

  • Monique Ryan won the seat of Kooyong in Melbourne as a ‘teal’ independent
  • She asked the health minister what government was doing about long Covid
  • Dr Ryan was heckled by Coalition MPs as she asked him during question time
  • She yelled at the jeering MPs and pointed, telling them to put their masks on 

A doctor who booted Josh Frydenberg out of politics has scolded the vast majority of opposition MPs for not wearing asks in Parliament.

Monique Ryan defeated the former treasurer in the seat of Kooyong, in southeast Melbourne, at the May 21 election as one of the seven ‘teal’ independents.

A former paediatric neurologist, she asked Health Minister Mark Butler in question time what the government was going to do about long Covid in Australia.

But Dr Ryan’s warning of an ‘incoming national significant burden of disability and chronic illness’ from long Covid drew jeers from Coalition MPs.

Monique Ryan, a paediatric neurologist turned 'teal' independent MP, pointed at the opposition benches and shouted 'put your masks on!' when she was heckled

Monique Ryan, a paediatric neurologist turned ‘teal’ independent MP, pointed at the opposition benches and shouted ‘put your masks on!’ when she was heckled

As the heckling grew louder, Dr Ryan paused to point at the opposition benches and shouted ‘put your masks on!’

This only served to raise the volume of jeering from the opposition, only seven of whom were wearing masks while all of Labor was.

Dr Ryan gave the hacklers a death stare and completed her question with a brief pause. 

‘Covid-19 infections in this country are at a record high and increasing, can the minister please explain how he proposes to manage the oncoming national significant burden of disability and chronic illness of repeated infection,’ she said.

The great divide between the Coalition and Labor – and most of the crossbench – on mask wearing has been a frequent distraction in the first few days of Parliament.

All 77 Labor MPs and 26 senators have worn masks indoors since their first Cabinet and caucus meetings a week ago, and in every session of Parliament.

Health Minister Mark Butler (centre) was asked in in question time what the government was going to do about long Covid in Australia

Health Minister Mark Butler (centre) was asked in in question time what the government was going to do about long Covid in Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Petter Dutton shook hands at St Andrews Presbyterian Church during the traditional service before the opening of Parliament last Tuesday. Mr Albanese wore a mask but Mr Dutton did not

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Petter Dutton shook hands at St Andrews Presbyterian Church during the traditional service before the opening of Parliament last Tuesday. Mr Albanese wore a mask but Mr Dutton did not

Mr Albanese often leaves his mask off while in his seat at the centre table, as he is socially distanced from the rest of the House of Representatives. 

By contrast, only a smattering of masks are worn by Coalition members, though that number has slightly increased over the past week

Michael McCormack, Karen Andrews, Angie Bell, Andrew Gee, Andrew Wallace, Mark Coluton, Rowan Ramsey, and Darren Chester wore them during Monday’s question time.

The PM has strongly supported recommendations from health officials that Australians should wear masks indoors over winter.

Covid cases rose to among the highest levels in the pandemic in recent weeks, with 45,242 reported on Friday, with an estimated 369,850 active infections. 

The divide was even more stark as while every Labor MP wore a mask in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, just five Coalition members followed suit

The divide was even more stark as while every Labor MP wore a mask in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, just five Coalition members followed suit

Mr Albanese and his Cabinet notably also wore masks at a meeting last Monday, and again at a meeting of the whole Labor caucus later that day

Mr Albanese and his Cabinet notably also wore masks at a meeting last Monday, and again at a meeting of the whole Labor caucus later that day 

Mr Dutton has not made similar strong calls for masks to been worn indoors, other than to stridently oppose the return of mandates – which the PM doesn’t want either.

Instead, he said Australians should make their own minds up about what Covid precautions to take.

The only time he was seen wearing a mask since Parliament began on Tuesday was at a Cancer Council morning tea on Wednesday.

Mr Butler, in his answer to Ms Ryan, said 300,000 Australians caught Covid every week, and half the country likely got it this year so far.

‘Our focus is on getting through this wave. We have extended support to state hospital system,’ he said.

‘We have expanded access to fourth dose vaccines and antiviral treatment.

‘We are encouraging Australians again to be Covid safe. In particular as the member pointed out to wear masks when their doors are not able to socially distant.

Mr Dutton (left) pulled on a mask as he mingled with guests along with former Nationals leader Michael McCormack (right), who wore a mask in Parliament on Wednesday

Mr Dutton (left) pulled on a mask as he mingled with guests along with former Nationals leader Michael McCormack (right), who wore a mask in Parliament on Wednesday

‘We also need to come out to grips with long Covid.’

Mr Butler said long Covid was hard to diagnose and some of the more than 200 symptoms were fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog.

‘More and more Australians are suffering longer term, multi-system disorders that prove hard to diagnose and treat,’ he said.

‘The truth is we don’t know that each scale of the challenge.

‘A common estimate of about four per cent of Covid patients experience long-term symptoms already runs to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australian.’

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