Senate Suspends Di Natale For Calling Barry O'Sullivan A "Pig"

Richard Di Natale has been sensationally suspended from the Senate for refusing to withdraw calling Barry O'Sullivan a "pig", after the LNP senator aimed a jibe at Sarah Hanson-Young.

"There’s a bit of Nick Xenophon in her, and I don’t mean that to be a double reference," O'Sullivan said during a Senate debate on Tuesday.

"But there’s a bit of Xenophon in her, references committees and not attending."

Greens leader Di Natale instantly voiced his outrage, calling O'Sullivan a "pig" and a "disgrace".

"We have endured on this side days of sexist filth coming from that man. He is a pig and he should consider and reflect on the standards he is adopting in this chamber," a furious Di Natale shouted in parliament.

O'Sullivan withdrew the remarks after a request from the Senate president Scott Ryan, and claimed he had meant no offence.

Di Natale was ordered by the Senate president to withdraw the insults he directed at O'Sullivan, but refused. It brought on a rare motion to suspend Di Natale, which eventually passed, supported by the Coalition, Labor and other members of the crossbench.

Di Natale was suspended from the Senate for the rest of the day, a penalty which has reportedly not been meted out for 15 years.

Labor's Penny Wong later explained that the ALP had supported the motion because Di Natale had refused to heed the orders of the Senate president, not because they supported O'Sullivan's remarks.

Senate president Ryan later issued a general warning to all senators about how they should behave and speak in the chamber.

Hanson-Young claimed she had been subject to sexist remarks from several male senators in recent months.

At a press conference following his suspension, Di Natale said he had been in the process of writing a formal letter to the Senate president, to complain of past unsavoury language directed at his colleagues, but that Tuesday's events were the final straw.

"For months my female colleagues have had to sit there while sexist filth has been thrown in their direction," Di Natale said.

"I made a commitment to [Hanson-Young] and all of my team that I wouldn't stand for it and I would call it out when I saw it. No woman in any workplace in Australia deserves to endure the sexist language that is directed at them in the parliament of Australia."

"I took a stand today because I want to make it very clear, that as a parliament, we need to do better."

It comes the same day Liberal MP Julia Banks quit the Coalition, in part due to what she saw as issues in the way male politicians treat female politicians; and a day after News Corp reported that federal minister Kelly O'Dwyer told colleagues that regular voters saw the Liberal Party as "anti-women".

More to come.

With AAP.