SUNSHINE Coast-based Speaker Peter Slipper has declared Parliament needs even more pomp and ceremony, announcing plans for a weekly parade of himself as he enters the chambers.
The Kawana-based MP, who slipped into formal new robes yesterday, announced he will do a weekly procession through Parliament House to his chair, so that more visitors can see his parade.
In Australia, the approach is usually reserved for formal occasions but Mr Slipper said that with so many visitors to Parliament, including schoolchildren, he is keen to provide more of a spectacle.
At the moment, the start of each sitting day, there is only a low-key procession in the Speaker's walkway, entering the House of Representatives chamber from the rear door.
Mr Slipper's statement noted that the current approach "is not accessible to the many visitors to our parliament".
"From next week, the procession on Tuesdays will commence in the Members' Hall and move through the glazed link-way, entering the front of the chamber via the front doors," the statement said.
"After announcing the Speaker as usual, the Sergeant-at-Arms will precede the Speaker into the chamber, before placing the Mace at the end of the table.
"The Speaker will take the chair via the Government side of the table."
"Consistent with current practice, the procession will comprise the Speaker, preceded by the Serjeant-At-Arms carrying the Mace, and the Speaker's Attendant,'' Mr Slipper said.
"Entry of the procession via the front doors is based on the current practice for formal occasions.''
""The proposed arrangements are similar to arrangements in the Canadian, New Zealand and United Kingdom Parliaments.''
Slipper goes for his gown
THE Sunshine Coast's self-confessed Mr Bean is indulging in a new form of fancy dress.
Member for Fisher Peter Slipper did not follow former Speaker Harry Jenkins' suit when returning to Parliament, in more ways than one.
While Mr Jenkins ditched the title Honourable and arrived in chambers wearing a suit, the newly appointed Speaker wants to return to the "tradition of Conservative Speakers".
Mr Slipper donned a formal Queen's Counsel gown for the return to Parliament yesterday.
This might just be the beginning of his new wardrobe.
A spokeswoman for Mr Slipper said he might also indulge in more of the traditional garb.
"He may in the future wear more of the formal attire, for example a bow tie, for special occasions," she said.
The spokeswoman dispelled rumours that Mr Slipper planned to wear the full-bottomed grey wig used by Speakers in the Westminster tradition. This is the tradition Mr Slipper passionately follows.
"He never discussed or contemplated wearing a wig," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Slipper announced last year that he would retain the tile "Honourable".
He said in a radio interview that it was "a title I had before, a title which comes with the appointment to executive position".
"I'm not a big person for titles, but I've accepted the situation that has been around for the last 10 years." Mr Slipper has also announced a planned name change.
The "Main Committee" will be renamed "the Federation Chamber of the House of Representatives".
He has also listed his "intentions as Speaker".
These include reducing the time limit in Question Time to extend the opportunity for supplementary questions.
He also warned his colleagues of his intention to "ensure order is maintained in the chamber".
"Without in any way being pessimistic, I confirm it is not my intention to warn disorderly members before directing them to leave the chamber for one hour," he said.
Brisbane QC Ralph Devlin, who lives at Maroochydore, said a Queen's Counsel gown would cost "between $600 and $800" and could be "picked off a rack".
Mr Slipper revealed in the Daily last week that Rowan Atkinson, AKA Mr Bean, "has stolen my identity."
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