The Senate will come to order – or maybe not

Federal election 2013 coverageTim Colebatch: Bringing a barnyard of crossbenchers to heel

The Senate is an orderly place where wise backsides sit on claret-coloured benches and tend to important legislative matters. The undignified antics of the House of Representatives are not welcome in democracy’s great red room, where speeches are measured, voting orderly, and attitudes as pompous as practicable.

But thanks to the quirks of proportional representation, a terrible beauty has been born in the upper house this federal election. As of next year, it will be invaded by a bunch of unknown new senators who look to be about as governable as a barrelful of monkeys.

First and most honourable mention goes to Ricky Muir, a Victorian from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast party. Yesterday Muir came to national attention, not so much because he was elected to high office, but because a video of him emerged engaging in hand-to-hand combat using the unlikely (yet patriotic) weaponry of kangaroo poo.

The video, entitled ”Family Fight in Australia” (precipitously removed from Muir’s YouTube channel on Sunday), appears to show the senator-elect on a camping trip, pelting pellets of marsupial faeces at his bearded brother.

Later, his brother retaliates and a man who looks a lot like Muir spits on him from atop a 4WD. The prankery continues when Muir creeps up on his brother from behind, beer in hand. In one assured movement, he pulls his brother’s black tracksuit pants down to his ankles.

It is some of the most magnificent bogan horseplay ever committed to film.

Muir went to ground on Monday but needn’t have. Frankly we could do with more dackings in the senate.

And then there is Liberal Democrat senator-elect David Leyonhjelm, a complete unknown even to many of the people who voted for him. His name appeared first on the NSW Senate ballot paper and he seems to have been the unconscious choice of uninterested voters who just number the boxes in the order in which they appear.

”Looks like I’m going to be the senator for the donkeys!” he said cheerfully on Sunday. And indeed, donkeys need leadership more than most.

Not to forget Wayne Dropulich, a West Australian from Australian Sports Party. He polled just 0.22 per cent of the initial vote, used to play grid iron and was surprised – alarmed, even – at his victory. He makes for a promising senatorial adornment, as do the Palmer United Party candidates and the Family First candidate.

Tony Abbott yesterday warned the micro-parties to ”respect the government of our nation has a mandate”, and even intimated he supported reform to prevent such unusual senators to be elected again.

But for now at least, these people are marvellously, constitutionally ours.

Welcome to Canberra, senators-elect. The red room needs you.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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