Canberra crash course hits home for new pollie
WITH 20km of corridors to learn his way around, newly elected Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan will be hoping he won't get lost as Federal Parliament resumes this week.
"It's deceptive how large Parliament House really is, it would actually be very, very easy to get lost," he laughed.
After a two-day induction last week he's excited to get stuck into his new role.
"I haven't had the opportunity to stop since the election so I haven't really felt nervous or excited until we watched a video about day one, where new members get sworn in, and that's when I felt really excited about the prospects and felt quite chuffed.
"It just really hit home."
Mr Conaghan, for The Nationals, joins an elite group of just 1203 members who have been elected to the House of Representatives in the last 118 years.
For some it would have felt like their first day at a new school - learning where to sit, how long to talk for and finding the canteen.
The standing orders for the House run to 160 pages, and govern everything from what they can ask ministers and when.
"The main one we were told to concentrate on was speaking times," Mr Conaghan said.
"It can range from 90 seconds to 20 minutes depending on if it's a formal motion or if you're speaking for or against something. We were told to know these before parliament starts in earnest."
He also met the press gallery, but said there wasn't much interest in him, with more high profile members taking the limelight like Independent Zali Steggell who toppled former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to take the seat of Warringah.
Mr Conaghan was impressed at the level of support available for Members of Parliament, but was given a subtle warning not to take it all for granted.
"The library services lady told this funny story about a request for research, which was clearly for a primary school assignment," he said.
"We had a lecture from the Federal Police and ASIO about security and intelligence, but that's probably all I can tell you about that."
From Port Macquarie's tidal pool to the Coffs Harbour Bypass there are several projects he's keen to get started, but says he hasn't been waiting for parliament to resume this week to make progress.
In relation to the bypass he has met with Paul Toole, the new Minister for Regional Transport and Roads to ask for an update on the progress of the EIS.
He also recognises the RMS could have communicated more clearly with the public.
"I wouldn't say the RMS are not being transparent, but more communication would have helped the process."