We made it to the House of Representative just after Question Time had started. We were seated behind the opposition benches. What I found interesting was the action away from the despatch box. Next time I go I will take a pad and pencil to make some better notes. This is all from a hazy memory.
When a question was being answered there is a lot of movement on both benches. Albanese wanders around talking to backbenchers, priming them (I suspect) on the next Dorothy Dixer question to asked, and generally keeping moods high. Abbott does a similar thing.
What was also interesting was the space behind the Speaker. There is a open space away from the prying eyes of the TV cameras which is where Albanese and Abbott would meet after a nod of the head from one of them. The interaction between them was one of friends and mutual respect. Much smiling and touching of shoulders. To me it looked like a “well, we are gonna do this next” and “OK – we will respond like this”. I suspect that parliament needs this level of cooperation to function, even if in front of the cameras and public it looks like open warfare.
Here is my (brief) assessment of some in the house:
Harry Jenkins (Speaker): Looks at time completely bored and that he is about to fall asleep.
Rudd: Commands the house well when he speaks. Often confers with the advisers while other questions are being answered. Sometimes offers some words to those about to answer questions or even looks up to the person answering to makes a suggestion.
Swan: Does not convey confidence when he speaks. Seemed ill at ease.
Tanner: Very polished, and seems to be part of the inner circle that would huddle to give advise (I not that Swan did not seem be part of this).
Albanese: Looks to be an effective manager of the house.
The nodders: Those sitting behind the despatch box do seem to have their nodding down pat.
Fitzgibbon: If he was further away from the despatch box he would have been in the senate. This is probably so that he does not make it onto the TV.
Turnbull: Would just sit there reading and writing. Often refers to the books in front of him (especially a green one – anyone know what it is?) Seemed not a happy puppy.
Hockey: All arms and mock bravado. At times just wanders around smiling and laughing with his own backbenchers.
Bishop: Still scary. Only asked one question. Like Swan, did not seem to be part of the inner circle that would huddle.
Abbott: Would ask the officials for the time of the answers (the officials have a timer). Would often wander behind the speaker to chat to Albanese. Looks at ease on the floor of the house.
Ruddock: I am positive I saw him move, dismissing the notion that he is not alive.
One final observation, I think it was an independent that asked Rudd a question on Climate Change. After Rudd finished answering, Rudd went up to the backbench to have a chat with that member (and the member beside him) for about 5mins. Seem genuinely interested with chatting to the member.
We also went across to the senate, but everyone was snoring.