Australia’s new parliament sworn-in

Australian Cabinet Ministers pose with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor General Quentin Bryce after the swearing in ceremony in Canberra, Australia.  

The members of Australia’s 43rd parliament were on Tuesday sworn-in Canberra by Chief Justice of the High Court Robert French.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the traditional smoking ceremony, which was preceded by a speech from Aboriginal elder Matilda House, according to media reports on Tuesday.

“On the occasion of this opening of the 43rd Parliament I welcome you,” she said, adding “With this welcome I express the hope of a united, reconciled nation, the oldest living culture joined with the many diverse cultures of a modern successful Australia.”

Deputy Governor-General Robert French officially opened the Parliament and MPs were sworn-in.

Prime Minister Gillard told parliament it was a “cause for regret” that some proposed parliamentary reforms had already failed, in a reference to the Coalition’s decision to back away from pairing the Speaker.

Labour’s Harry Jenkins was nominated as Speaker, and was elected unopposed to the post, which he held in the last parliament.

The post of Deputy Speaker was expected to be resolved later today, and has been the subject of controversy as Labour tries to protect its one-vote majority on the floor of parliament.

The Coalition last week walked away from a reform deal that would have seen the Speaker paired and the government maintain a two-vote buffer.

Ms. Gillard told parliament today there had been “some setbacks” already on the path to parliamentary reform.

“This term of parliament is not a chance to re-fight the election, vote after vote, bill after bill. The Australian people...want a constructive parliament,” she said.

Ms. Gillard renewed her invitation to the opposition to help make her minority government work in Australia’s first hung parliament in 70 years.

She described an agreement, between Labour, the Coalition and independents, to reform parliamentary processes, as “an agreement of honour.”

There are 32 new MPs in total and only eight from the ALP.

Today’s opening comes five weeks after the federal election failed to deliver a ruling majority for either major party and resulted in weeks of uncertainty as parties negotiated to form a minority government.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 3:45:00 PM |

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