Dave’s Brakeslam Tour – Day Five – Canberra

This morning’s seminar seemed to go well, despite the fact that I ad libbed this bizarre analogy in the seminar about manufacturing toilet paper. I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I got the point across, but I think it was – what’s that word again? – inelegant.
One of the things i like most of all about Perth is the lack of road tolls. It means I can get away with virtually no cash in the west, but I’m constantly refilling my change drawer over here.
A serendipitous discovery this afternoon – that both houses of Parliament were sitting in Canberra today – a rare confluence of events. I decided to go and check out the building for the first time.
The amount of marble that went into the entry hall may seem extravagant, but it’s only because of the way this place so perfectly reflects what Australia is all about. It’s not a foreboding, aloof structure, but a masterpiece of design which subtly welcomes you in. It really feels almost like a giant formal loungeroom than a vast center of government (Like the Parliament Houses in the UK and what I’m assuming things are like in Washington). I like it a lot.
The first thing that hit me about the chambers, after watching them on TV for so long, is that the proportions are so different in reality. I’d always imagined a long, narrow chamber, but when you visit the public gallery, looking down from above, it’s so short. It’s not smaller than I imagined, just a different shape, and taller. Much like Mark Latham.
One of the other things I was impressed by was an exchange which I’ll illegally reproduce from Hansard, here:

Ms KING (3.50 p.m.) – Mr Speaker, you would be aware that the President of the Senate yesterday agreed to a request by the Senate to fly the Eureka flag in the foyer of the Senate chamber. Is there any news you might like to share with the House about the flying of the flag in the House of Representatives foyer?
The SPEAKER – I thank the member for Ballarat for the question. As she is aware, I have written to her agreeing with the President of the Senate that, together with the Australian flag, the Eureka flag will be flown in the foyer at the entrance to the House of Representatives during daylight hours on 3 December 2004 for the 150th anniversary events of the Eureka Stockade. I am happy to table a copy of that letter.
Mr Latham – Mr Speaker, I thank you for that fine gesture. It is an appropriate thing to do. It is a very significant day in our national history. We on this side of the House commend your generosity, and we hope it is shared by the Prime Minister on Friday.
Ms King – Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank you, and I am sure the people of Ballarat will be very pleased with the decision.

The thing I like about the exchange is not only that the Parliament is willing to do things a little out of the ordinary if the occasion demands, but that the parliamentarians actually take the time to say thanks. It’s good manners. Of all things, I didn’t think that was something I’d be seeing in Parliament today.


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