Parliament’s back in session, and much to the surprise/delight/slight disappointment of the gallery and interested observers, it seems to be proceeding in an orderly fashion.

As Geoff Kitney wrote in The Australian Financial Review this morning: “No one looking on could help but notice that order has replaced chaos in federal parliament. And while it is obviously unwise to make too much of it yet, a fair portion of the credit for this should go to the new speaker, Peter Slipper …”

Yes, he whose head is still being photoshopped into a rat on the front of The Daily Telegraph, who was widely maligned for the rumour that he was about to wig-out for his new role (he opted for a slick robe instead, the choice of coalition speakers before him), the man for whom the word “Slippery” is usually fronting his first name, is actually garnering some good reviews.

Kitney continued: “Slipper has taken to his new job with clarity, sureness and even-handedness that has left MPs with little room for misbehaviour.”

The man himself has announced a set of new rules in his second Speaker of the House vodcast. And so, a note of substance seems to have slipped into question time.

This may not last long. It’s early days. But in the spirit of this new era of enlightened debate and conversation, of civility and contemplation, free of cardboard cut-out figures and Harry’s vexed cry of “order”, start lobbing your questions into OurSay’s The People’s Question.

Today Bernard Keane profiles three questions — on the NT intervention, banking regulation and MP’s personal wealth, so there’s something for everyone. But if you think we’re not talking about the right issues, get involved. Start posting questions here and stay tuned for our mystery MP to lob in your view at question time in March. By then, it may all have gone to hell in a handbasket …

Peter Fray

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