Congratulations, new Senators.
At least 0.23 per cent of eligible voters in states bigger than half the countries in the world and smaller than the population of Brisbane placed their trust in your ability to scrutinise the government’s legislative agenda.
You’ve made it to the red leather benches and sat through ‘senator school’. Think it’s been a tough couple of days? A bit over it? Well, strap yourselves in, because your Susan Boyle-style run on Australia’s Got Unrepresentative Swill goes for another six years.
You’re lucky in a way. Not since the Billy McMahon season has the bar been set so low. Please don’t make it a limbo contest.
Nothing grates more with smart alec pundits than being proved wrong. The gallery is salivating at the thought of one (or more, or all of you) being a gibbering wreck at a doorstop.
Speaking of which, a novelty act wears off very quickly, so no flimflam. Former Family First Senator Steve Fielding is not remembered for campaigning for a national recycling scheme, he’s remembered for walking around Parliament dressed as a beer bottle.
The 44th Parliament has its Billy Flynn in Clive Palmer, who speaks in a jumble of non-sequiturs and beguilingly believable details he seems to have lifted from the Uber Facts twitter account. People who try to be funny invariably come off more Costanza than Seinfeld. That said; avoid bizarro Jerry.
Take yourself too seriously and you’ll end up looking like Eric Abetz and no one wants that. Come to think of it, Eric Abetz is bizarro Clive.
You’ll quickly find that you have more in common with people whose politics you despise than the bastards sitting beside you (well, that’s how it goes in the ALP, anyway). Senator Muir, you and Peter Whish-Wilson share a love of the outdoors. Two words: road trip. You can go to one of those mad surfing spots in Tasmania and tow him out on a jet ski.
Senator Lazarus is never going to shake the ‘Brick With Eyes’ tag, so run with it, straight up the guts. Take George Brandis to the 2015 State of Origin series. Like Greg Inglis, he was born in NSW and represents Queensland.
I’m sure The Nationals’ Barry O’Sullivan can help Senator Wang learn the ropes; after all, they each have enough digits on one hand to whip votes.
Senator Leyonhjelm claims to have read Marx, Engels and Lenin. A quick revision of The Internationale, a seat next to Kim Il Carr at Estimates and I’ll bring the popcorn.
Senator Day is ‘for families’ (whatever that means). He’ll be at home with the Leave It To Beaver crew otherwise known as the Shoppies, sharing a pack of Arrowroots, watching ‘120 Days of Sodom’ in fellow new boy Senator Bullock’s office (for research purposes only, you understand).
Speaking of the estimable Senator Bullock, while you micro-party Senators are attracting most attention, you’re not the only ones breaking the stereotypical mix of hacks and time-servers who pass the Australia’s Unrepresentative Swill auditions.
Leyonhjelm has been a member of every party bar the Communists.
There’s the Liberal National Party’s Matthew Canavan (former Chief-of-Staff to Barnaby Joyce) and ex-political strategist, James McGrath; and the ALP’s Chris Ketter is the former Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Shoppies… oh, who are you kidding?
The micro-parties may be small on quotas but some of you are seasoned contestants. Leyonhjelm has been a member of every party bar the Communists and Bob Day quit the SA Liberal boy band because he thought the preselection system was manipulated (Jamie Briggs does have nicer hair, though).
The bells are ringing AS I TYPE (did they cover that in ‘Senator School’?) so I wish you all the very best. To paraphrase the great Emerson, Lake & Palmer (not that Palmer), welcome to the show that never ends. Well, until 2020. Whatever happens, you’ll walk away with a sweet super package.
Anyone for a double-dissolution?