At St Christopher’s Cathedral for the Ecumenical Service for the Commence of Parliament in Canberra this morning, there was one noticeable absentee.  Coalition MPs, including the Prime Minister, rushed into the service at 7.30am this morning. There were a few late shows, including deputy leader Julie Bishop, who power-walked up the stairs of the church, keen to skip the media pack asking questions about the Judas in their midst.

As the national anthem got underway (the full one, not just the usual short one), Immigration Minister Peter Dutton arrived late, just after that awkward line “for those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share”.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered readings, advance people and security kept watch outside as TV news reporters did their crosses on a drizzly morning in Manuka. The sound of prime ministerial Comcar C1 starting — with its unfurled Australian flag — signaled it was time to go. When it was all over at 8.30, the PM did not speak to the media when departing with wife Lucy. Shorten made a brief statement setting out his intentions for the start of Parliament, as MPs from both sides made their way out of the church. 

Only Dutton could be drawn to comment. The leader of the Monkey Pod lunches suggested on his departure from church that the Coalition was a broad church, which was interesting as the church itself was absent one Cory Bernardi. The Senate’s opening prayer at 12.30 today is likely one of the most attended in recent history as Bernardi took the plunge and announced his intention to split from the Coalition and sit on the crossbench.

Peter Fray

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