Today the forty two new Federal MHRs will receive their official orientation and welcome to Parliament House, I suspect that this will be rather different to a traditional university O-Week. For starters I’m imagining more suits and fewer thongs, although there is a new member for the NT seat of Solomon so you never know. There are, however, some O-Week traditions that I think could work.
Firstly, there’s the traditional ‘get to know you’ game. In this exercise each of the newbies would sit with a group of returning MHRs who would introduce themselves and give the name of their seat. The Newbie is then expected to recite this list backwards, drinking heartily every time a mistake is made.
Goon of fortune would take on a whole new feel if the wine cask was suspended from the flagpole above Parliament rather than a broken hills hoist. And while everyone was on the roof, why not grab some black plastic and a drum of detergent and take advantage of the best lawns in Australia to set up a slip and slide?
A parliamentarian’s pub crawl would be another good idea as you could include venues in suburbs other than Manuka and Kingston, which would greatly expand the geographical knowledge of our elected representatives.
One stark difference that might be worth addressing is that most people at a uni O-Week are hoping to achieve a lot over the next three years before moving on to earn a living, but will be decried as layabouts and ferals during their time studying, while most of the MHRs showing up today are hoping to be warming the benches for the best part of a decade before going home with a pension, but will be able to be referred to as ‘The Honourable …..’ during their tenure.