Welcome to big school A huge influx of new MPs and their staff are in Canberra going through a kind of "Parliament school" to prepare them for the challenges of the next three years. Based on our views of the behaviour in Parliament, here are a few suggestions for what they might get through after they told everyone where the toilets are and which food to avoid at the canteen:
- Dress standards: the House of Representative Practice tells us that acceptable standards of dress in the chamber are ultimately up to the discretion of the speaker. In 2005 speaker David Hawker argued it was not “in keeping with the dignity of the house for members to arrive in casual or sports wear” -- but Tony Abbott and Penny Wong have both got away with arriving in the chamber in gym gear. Senator Ian Macdonald was ruled “disorderly” for his immortal decision to wear a hi-vis “Australians for Coal” shirt in 2014. However, new MPs should note that they can wear a tailored safari suit without a tie -- a loophole frequently enjoyed by noted enthusiast Philip Ruddock. Wearing another culture's religious attire to for an extremely grubby stunt? Apparently basically fine
- Props: in 1980, the chair ruled that the display of a handwritten sign containing an “unparliamentary word” was out of order -- tragically, what that word was has been lost to history. Hansard does not record what that language was. Macdonald wasn't the only one hit with a a “disorderly” ruling the day he wore hi-vis: Greens senator Scott Ludlam was also reprimanded for holding up a piece of paper with “SRSLY” written on it. Your can't bring in real weapons, but Liberal senator Bill Heffernan got away with brandishing a fake pipe bomb in Senate estimates to protest against recent changes to security. The other lesson is: even if you get away with it, a prop choice can haunt you for the rest of your career. Just ask the outgoing PM
- Language: what can be said in Parliament is a tricky one for newbies. Calling an MP a “liar” is considered unparliamentary, but in 2014, Christopher Pyne appeared to call manager of opposition business Tony Burke a “cunt”. The offending word might have been, in fact, “grub”. Along similar lines, in 1965 external affairs minister Paul Hasluck called then-deputy opposition leader Gough Whitlam “one of the filthiest objects ever to come into this chamber”; in response he got a glass of water emptied into his face and was called a “truculent runt”. Whitlam later conceded that might have been a transcription error.
Compare the pair Climate activists Blockade Australia shut down parts of Sydney's CBD this week, blocking the harbour tunnel and other city streets. Members have been arrested and face $22,000 fines or up to two years in prison.
On Monday a 31-year-old man from Bondi drove into protesters.