"Explain why MPs speak with a piece of paper over their heads."

Hi Saira, thanks for your question

The practice of MPs covering their heads with paper comes from a long-standing rule the British Parliament until 1998. In the British House of Commons a Member who wished to attract the Speaker’s attention would stand up. However during a division when the bells would ring and members move around the chamber, it would be difficult to attract the Speakers attention, so members would either put on a hat or cover their head with a paper to attract the Speaker’s attention.

This practice was never included in the rules for the Australian Senate or House of Representatives. Instead it was decided that any discussions about a division vote could be held immediately after the bells had finished. Despite this there are instances when members of the Australian Parliament have observed the British tradition of covering their heads to speak during a division.

diagram to help explain Explain why MPs speak with a piece of paper over their heads.