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Ready and raring to go, new kids play nice at Senate school

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Leyonhjelm: abolish ABC, cut CSIRO

The world according to new Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm, where small government is good government.

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They have been waiting for months, but Australia's newest senators face one more hurdle before they officially take their places in the upper house: Senate boot camp.

For the next two days, the group of 12, including the powerful new crossbench, will undergo briefings on everything from how legislation works to voting and the nuances of Senate etiquette. They will also have a practice swearing-in.

David Leyonhjelm in his first week as senator at Parliament House.

David Leyonhjelm in his first week as senator at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Gusto levels were high as the new kids descended on Canberra on Wednesday ahead of the swot session.

''It's good to finally be here,'' Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie said while enjoying a coffee at an Independence Day celebration at the United States embassy.

''The last few weeks, the last month has really dragged. [We] just want to get our teeth into it.''

Senator Bob Day moves into his new office.

Senator Bob Day moves into his new office. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

PUP colleague Dio Wang was eagerly anticipating the orientation talks, explaining that the written material on the Senate was ''pretty boring''.

''For things like this it's always better to learn through practice.''

New South Wales Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm has been studying up on procedure but noted that the Senate reference book has more than 700 pages. ''Even if you read every word you couldn't possibly remember everything.''

He said it was harder for minor party senators to learn the ropes as they don't have the infrastructure of the major parties. ''We will need to work together and help each other out a fair bit, I think.''

Speaking to Fairfax Media before he boarded the plane to Canberra, West Australian Labor senator Joe Bullock said he was a slow learner who would have to be told how the Senate worked a number of times ''before I get it''.

But the man who has previously described Labor members as ''mad'' said he was looking forward to working with Senate leader Eric Abetz, with whom he enjoys a ''reasonable relationship''.

''I hope to be able to talk to him in a non-partisan way.''

Family First senator Bob Day said he would be all business in Parliament, pledging to spend the next six years focusing on making sure every family has a job and a house.

Senator Day also had kind words to say about his fellow crossbenchers, describing Senator Lambie as a ''gun'' and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts' Ricky Muir as a surprise packet.

''I think Ricky's going to surprise everyone. At least Ricky knows what he doesn't know and he's willing to learn.''

With Fergus Hunter

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30 comments

  • Ricky Muir might actually be a real man coming from that working background. He might be easily hornswaggled, however his heart is probably in the right place. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the bullshit.

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    July 03, 2014, 8:01AM
    • +1 for this

      Commenter
      Alistair
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 10:31AM
    • Yes, I hope Ricky is able to be his own man. He will be on a huge learning curve. Let us hope that he can rise above the swill. There is no reason why he can't be another John Madigan or Nick Xenophon; a powerful force for good. Or at the very least, a balance to the conceit and self interest of people like Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm. Family First has some good people, but how they fell for that trojan horse, who knows.

      Commenter
      Matthew
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 11:10AM
    • Working background? What would that be. When elected he was an unemployed father of 5 whose claim to fame was throwing kangaroo poo! Between the election and now he just happened to get a job at a timber mill and it's people like this who are making decisions about our country. God help us.

      Commenter
      Catherine
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 11:25AM
  • Keating was right. Unrepresentative swill. This new bunch particularly, nincompoops and incompetents. There for the pay packet.

    Commenter
    Pluto
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 03, 2014, 8:14AM
    • I couldn't agree more. A motley crew at best, with "life experience", dubious as that may be.

      There really needs to be a massive overhaul of proportional voting. How a nobody with a handful of votes can end up sitting in parliament is very concerning.

      Commenter
      Pete
      Location
      2000
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 10:22AM
    • @Pete. Yes, and it does not auger well for the running of government and our democracy when a senator-elect considers the written material "pretty boring."
      But I guess that is what the government is counting on, that the newcomers will be so out of their depth that it will be all the easier to try to manipulate them.

      Commenter
      Pluto
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 10:53AM
  • No mention of the most politically experienced and highly effective Linda Reynolds of WA?

    Commenter
    Michael Seagle
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 03, 2014, 9:56AM
    • It would be nice to have education standards that must be met before you can enter federal politics.

      Surgeons need medical degrees. Scientists need Ph.D.'s, so why shouldn't federal politicians have a post graduate degree? One with compulsory topics in constitutional law, general science, and ethics.

      Commenter
      ij
      Date and time
      July 03, 2014, 10:01AM
      • Spot on. Seems the Australian public votes in a bunch of ex car salesmen, and under educated fools and then we jump up and down when they make mistakes. We only have ourselves to blame for this forgetful Senate mob.

        Commenter
        The Word
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        July 03, 2014, 10:27AM

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