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Question Time's bunch of spuds

  • 11 September 2018


Question Time on the first day of a new Prime Minister. Do I expect pomp? Ceremony? Gravitas?

Of course this is not day one of a new parliament — it's just another day in the life of this one. But I am making my first ever visit to the House of Representatives, and I'm not alone in expecting the afternoon to be something more than a Mad Monday. The ticket queues are long. 'Can't think why you've all come today,' one guide jokes.

I meet a woman visiting from Albury. 'My friends think I'm mad,' she says. 'But I had to see.' What? What are we hoping to find?

I take my green ticket entitling me to a seat above the LNP benches, and settle myself into the second row. I can see all the players except for three rows of the Coalition. No Tony Abbott in my eyeline; no Julie Bishop. I don't see her response when the new Prime Minister thanks her for her service. I can't see Abbott's reaction when Scott Morrison thanks Malcolm Turnbull for his.

Morrison does this as part of a cursory recap of the events that led to him being in the big chair. There's no vision laid out — he simply tells us the story we already know. I sense I'm not alone, up in the galleries, in wanting more.

Beside me sit a family — Mum and Dad with two teenage sons. I have to stop myself from staring at them. One of the boys has the most startling eyes — wide, curious and dark. He is twitchy, febrile, observant. His brother is guarded, his gaze downcast. They have a day off school, but I wonder whether this excursion is punishment or gift. Are they political beasts, this family? I get no sense of that. Like me, I suspect, they're drawn here because of the day, and a wish to understand ... something.

The House of Representatives is light and airy. It's hard to imagine secrets in this place. There is nowhere to hide. And yet the antics that play out for the next hour would be better hidden. The Labor Party repeat the catchcry of 'Muppets', over and over. The Liberals manage to work the CFMEU into every ministerial response. Morrison and his men (and they are all men who speak) insist, over and over, that they are 'getting on with business' because that is what