Bizarre exchanges at Senate Estimates hearing

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Bizarre seems hardly sufficient to describe the performance of at least one Coalition senator during yesterday's Senate Estimates hearing of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

The hearing involved extensive questioning of Department of Health officials on the federal government's COVID-19 pandemic response.

At stages during the day, at least one Coalition senator subjected TGA head John Skerritt to a series of questions on what can probably be best described as issues that might be related to the sorts of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories occupying the corners of the internet.

To be clear, these were not questions about the rights and wrongs of things like vaccine mandates in some workplace settings. 

One line of questioning effectively claimed a TGA-led conspiracy to downplay vaccine adverse events and even accused one of the COVID-19 vaccine makers of seeking to conceal clinical data.

It was strange.

Another independent senator also subjected Mr Skerritt to questioning, including on the claim the US FDA is 'compromised' by its interactions with the biopharmaceutical industry.

Mr Skerritt responded rationally, calmly but strongly to the questions.