The old lessons new MPs should be taught
As is the custom for a Speaker of the House Harry Jenkins yesterday welcomed new members of Parliament with a quote from the British band Chumbawamba: “I get knocked down, I get up again, you are never going to keep me down.” Amen.
It was sound advice, and considering the nature of the new paradigm, we can soon expect a private members bill that would make the playing of Tubthumping compulsory before each Question Time so we can “get into the mood” for democracy.
But perhaps a few others should have joined the speakers list with cautionary tales of what not to do. Here are some interesting topics that could’ve made quite the Power Point presentations for the new kids:
Just a lot of advice from Peter Slipper
Ah the gift that keeps on giving. Earlier this year the Liberal MP fell asleep in the House while the Indonesian president was addressing the Parliament. The able bodied (by the strictest application of the term) Slipper also managed to get stuck in a disabled toilet in Parliament, sounding the emergency alarm with armed guards rushing to his aid. In highlighting this incident in Parliament the disabled Labor MP Graham Edwards pointed to the source of the security scare: “Many doors do not open inward or outward. They simply slide.”
Andrew Bartlett session on BYO etiquette
The former Democrats leader was famously stole five bottles of wine from a Liberal Christmas party at Parliament House. How he managed to get them all into his jacket we’ll never know, but it’s a wonder he’s not working in some advisory role on the Mexico-US border. A drunk Bartlett later accosted his accuser - the sadly late Senator Jeannie Ferris - on the floor of the Senate. Bartlett later apologised to Ferris and oddly sent her a bottle of wine to show her he meant it.
Chris Pyne’s presentation on not picking fights with cartoonists from The Australian
On Budget night 2002 a somewhat less experienced Chris Pyne decided to give The Australian’s cartoonist Bill Leak some constructive criticism on the artist’s work. What possessed Pyne to get all Robert Hughes on Leak at the Holy Grail bar remains unclear, but, according to reports at the time, Leak not only didn’t know who Pyne was but told him he’d be happy to hear his critique outside the Holy Grail where he’d give him “a real hiding”. Pyne informed Leak that he “served the people”. This has done wonders for Leak’s view of Pyne.
Just take Matt Price’s advice on the Holy Grail (and apply to Kingston generally)
Speaking of the Holy Grail, all new MPs should take the late journalist Matt Price’s advice and watch out for that joint. Matt was once threatened with legal action after describing the Kingston “establishment” in less than flattering terms in a column, but actually could have been a lot less generous. To be fair most Kingston nightspots are creepily claustrophobic and possess their patrons with a form of Stockholm syndrome. Put it this way, nobody ever hurt their career by not going out and getting shit faced within three square feet of the press gallery and members of your opposing party.
Knock before you enter the meditation room
The less said about this little loft of Sodom and Gomorrah the better. Like many large public office buildings new Parliament House was equipped with a pool, gym, hairdresser and “meditation room”. Now the glaring failure of the meditation room is that it is non-denominational, and therefore possesses the wrath of no God against whom you may be sinning. If they had made it a chapel, a synagogue or mosque nobody, however unbelieving, would risk rooting in there. As it stands the meditation room presents no such barrier.
Bike riding lessons with former Speaker Leo McLeay
This would be hilarious if the incident didn’t have such serious consequences. No wait . . . it’s still hilarious. Former Labor MP and Speaker Leo McLeay wanted to borrow a bike from the Parliament gym, but was warned by staff it may not support his fulsome figure (how do you even begin conversation like that?). Riding off into the Canberra afternoon like an environmentally aware Michellin Man, Mr McLeay and his son (who incidentally will soon be taking his own class on why not to gamble and look at porn on work computers when you’re a NSW Minister) were having a charming time when the worst fear of every bicycle engineer was realised: the big fat politician to frame ratio became too great and the bike collapsed. McLeay suffered a broken arm and facial injuries for which he was quietly awarded $65,000. When the media and then and the Opposition got wind of this McLeay faced a no-confidence motion and resigned. A later inquiry would clear McLeay of any impropriety in receiving compensation, but sadly he would never be able to watch that touching scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ever again.
A general discussion about planes, trains and automobiles
Just think, if you were a tax-payer supporting free travel for politicians around the country how would you like them to treat this privilege? Would you, for example, be impressed that the aforementioned Pete Slipper was in 2003 told by QANTAS staff that he wasn’t allowed to board a flight from Darwin because you might have had one too many? He refused to admit that he was at all drunk his furnished his local paper with this great quote: “I wasn’t in any way, shape or form drunk . . . I feel relatively innocent.” Would you be impressed with former NT Liberal MP David Tollner’s drunken boorish behavior on a flight between Adelaide and Canberra - which included ruffling the hair of poor Chris Pyne again. Initially when confronted with the allegations Tollner described them as “one of the things a nancy boy from Adelaide would say” (Tollner later apologised to everyone). If you were say a Green, what do you think people would think of you ordering a petrol-guzzling turbo charged V6 Commodore for yourself at tax-payers expense like a our first Green in the House of Reps Michael Organ did in 2002?
Final session on travel allowances
Session interrupted when Rob Oakeshott bursts in and announces he’s just received funding to fly everyone on the Mal Colston memorial jet to Chicago: you’re all going to the Oprah Show!
Don’t miss: Get The Punch in your inbox every day
Get The Punch on Facebook
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…