Federal Politics

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

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.

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.''


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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