Ten moments that defined federal politics in 2017

Senator Nick Xenophon with the packing boxes in his office, at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 24 October 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

1) Trump versus Turnbull

When Malcolm Turnbull picked up the phone in January to kick off ‘s relationship with new US President Donald Trump, he would have been expecting lots of friendliness. Unfortunately, Turnbull mentioned a deal had made with the Obama administration for the US to resettle 1250 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

“Geez that is a big ask,” Trump said before getting increasingly angry and describing it as his “most unpleasant call all day”.

Donald Trump speaking to Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: AP

Thus ensued much scrambling from diplomats and US talk show hosts to try and make sense of the strange encounter.

2) Morrison’s lump of coal

In one of the first Question Times of the year, Treasurer Scott Morrison turned up with a chunk of coal. Props are banned in the chamber, but Morrison didn’t care and used it to taunt Labor: “This is coal. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you!”

Labor were unfussed but it was emblematic of one of the biggest political fights of the year. With power prices jumping and blackouts looming, the Coalition was all set to tear itself to pieces over the makeup of a new energy policy. But come October, the National Energy Guarantee cleared the Coalition party room with barely a hitch.

Treasurer Scott Morrison with a lump of coal during Question Time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen3) Larissa Waters makes history

Larissa Waters made history in May as the first woman to breastfeed in federal Parliament. In June, she made headlines again by feeding baby Alia while moving a motion on black lung disease. While Waters’ career was cut short soon after due to the citizenship debacle, the image of the new mum balancing work and family life in the Senate is one of the most enduring of the year.

Making history … former Senator Larissa Waters with her baby Alia in June. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen4) Scott Ludlam makes an important discovery

Uh oh. When the Greens senator called a press conference one Friday afternoon in July, no one had any idea that it would kick off one of federal Parliament’s most uncertain and bizarre episodes.

Ludlam resigned because a member of the public tipped him off that he was still a New Zealand citizen (and therefore ineligible to sit in Parliament). It was shocking. But it turned out he was not the only one, not by a long shot. Everyone from the Liberal Party, to Labor, the Nationals and the crossbench was eventually caught in the mass stuff-up. And the High Court cases and possible byelections will continue in 2018. Hooray!

Some of the MPs who faced citizenship questions in 2017. Photos: Alex Ellinghausen, Andrew Meares5) Julie Bishop starts an unlikely diplomatic incident

Foreign ministers are supposed to stop diplomatic crises, so it took considerable skill from Bishop to start a fight with ‘s best mate and next-door neighbour, New Zealand. It was all to do with contact n Labor had with NZ Labour over dual citizenship issues that related to Barnaby Joyce’s situation. And centred around Bishop saying it would be difficult to trust NZ Labour if they won government.

So it was textbook awkward when Labour’s Jacinda Ardern became prime minister some two months later.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop during the infamous New Zealand press conference. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen6) Xenophon quits federal politics for the big time

Nick Xenophon has been a kingmaker in Canberra, commanding a crucial three votes on the Senate crossbench. So at first, his surprise announcement that he was quitting his Senate spot to run in the upcoming South n state election seemed … wacky. But with polls showing his SA Best Party could do well enough to make him premier, the decision seems more understandable.

Nick Xenophon packing boxes in his office at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen7) Parliament unites in grief

In October, Labor MP Linda Burney had to face the unthinkable when her 33-year-old son Binni Kirkbright-Burney was found dead in the family home. Both sides of Parliament stopped to acknowledge her loss.

“She is cast deep in grief, but she does not grieve alone,” Turnbull said.

“We know how much Linda loved her son and we know how much her son loved Linda,” Bill Shorten added.

Susan Lamb holds hands with Anne Aly as Bill Shorten talks about the death of Binni Kirkbright-Burney, the son of Linda Burney. Photo: Andrew Meares

8) Cash makes a hash of Senate estimates

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash had a shocker at Senate estimates hearings in October. After a dinner break, she had to come back and correct the record after she had spent all day denying her office had tipped off the media about a police raid on n Workers’ Union offices. In the end, it turned out one of her staffers had alerted the media. The staffer quit but there was significant pressure from Labor for Cash to resign herself.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash under fire during the estimates hearing. Photo: Andrew Meares

9) Parliament unites in joy

Parliament – and – erupted in rainbow colours in November when same-sex marriage passed both houses of Parliament and became legal in . There was singing in the public galleries and celebration right across the political spectrum. Liberal MP Tim Wilson even used his speech in Parliament to propose to his partner, Ryan.

This was preceded by the same-sex marriage postal vote, which had Labor’s Penny Wong – a long-time campaigner for the reform – shedding tears of relief when the 61.6 per cent yes vote was returned.

Penny Wong after the same-sex marriage result is announced at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares

10) Dastyari’s final dash

He’d already been demoted from the Labor frontbench in 2016 over his dealings with Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo. But amid fresh revelations he had advised Huang his phone might be tapped by n spy agencies, Dastyari’s position in Parliament became untenable.

In the middle of a reinvigorated debate about foreign interference in n politics (and the byelection in Bennelong, with its large Chinese population), the NSW Labor powerbroker and wunderkind resigned. He’d only been in federal Parliament for four years.

Sam Dastyari announces his resignation at a press conference in Sydney. 12th December 2017 Photo: Janie Barrett