Voice of Real Australia: Let's put defiant optimism front and centre

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM digital editor Janine Graham.

CANBERRA CONNECTED: Nova Peris, Anne Webster, Fiona Phillips and the Orange Army with Cathy McGowan and Helen Haines.

CANBERRA CONNECTED: Nova Peris, Anne Webster, Fiona Phillips and the Orange Army with Cathy McGowan and Helen Haines.

Let's take it numerically - starting at, oh, 44.

The 44th parliament of Australia was memorable for all sorts of reasons. It started well. On the opening day of parliament, then PM, Tony Abbott, was given a fighting boomerang - and encouraged not to use it.

More significantly two women entered the parliament - Nova Peris and Cathy McGowan.

Ms Peris became the first Indigenous woman elected to the federal parliament, and Ms McGowan was the first woman elected as an independent to the House of Representatives.

The 45th parliament was a rollicking affair with MPs leaving the building more often that Aussie batsmen were given out at Edgbaston last night.

It was, if you recall, the parliamentary eligibility crisis we had to have. Among the departees was Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie.

The very day she resigned in 2017 she vowed to return. And she did. Not before starring in a jungle of different sorts, this one a TV reality show where she was hit on the bonce by a rock.

So far there's been little rocking an even less rolling in this latest incarnation of our parliament.

The 46th edition is now seeping into our collective consciousness.

Maiden speeches continued this week, among them rookie MPs Fiona Phillips, Anne Webster and Helen Haines.

There were some commonalities between the three: Newstart proved a popular topic as was improved funding for their regional communities. Dr Webster, the Member for Mallee, could have spoken for them all when she said despite the electorate's resilience "opportunity does not exist for all".

Some may call us the lucky country but, as usual, some are luckier than others.

Dr Haines, with her vocal Orange Army of travelling support and her predecessor Cathy McGowan watching on, labelled herself a "defiant optimist". C'mon, politics aside, who wouldn't want their MP to describe themselves in such a manner?

As Ms McGowan made her return to the national capital in a supporting role, a former MP reappeared in the spotlight.

Julie Bishop will be the next chancellor at the Australian National University, the first woman in the university's 73-year history.

Elsewhere, former senator Nova Peris, having dipped her toe ever-so-briefly in the ubiquitous world of reality TV shows, revealed this week she's joined a campaign against restrictions on the use of the Aboriginal flag.

She apparently plans to speak to pollies in Canberra to heighten awareness. Anyone see a pattern emerging here? Let's keep tabs on it.

Janine Graham, ACM digital editor

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