Melbourne: The members of Australia`s
43rd parliament were on Tuesday sworn-in in Canberra by Chief
Justice of the High Court Robert French.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader
Tony Abbott attended the traditional smoking ceremony, which
was preceded by a speech from Aboriginal elder Matilda House,
according to media reports today.
"On the occasion of this opening of the 43rd
Parliament I welcome you," she said, adding "With this welcome
I express the hope of a united, reconciled nation, the oldest
living culture joined with the many diverse cultures of a
modern successful Australia."
Deputy Governor-General Robert French officially
opened the Parliament and MPs were sworn-in.
Prime Minister Gillard told parliament it was a "cause
for regret" that some proposed parliamentary reforms had
already failed, in a reference to the Coalition`s decision to
back away from pairing the Speaker.
Labor`s Harry Jenkins was nominated as Speaker, and
was elected unopposed to the post, which he held in the last
The post of Deputy Speaker was expected to be resolved
later today, and has been the subject of controversy as Labor
tries to protect its one-vote majority on the floor of
The Coalition last week walked away from a reform deal
that would have seen the Speaker paired and the government
maintain a two-vote buffer.
Gillard told parliament today there had been "some
setbacks" already on the path to parliamentary reform.
"This term of parliament is not a chance to re-fight
the election, vote after vote, bill after bill. The Australian
people...want a constructive parliament," she said.
Gillard renewed her invitation to the opposition to
help make her minority government work in Australia`s first
hung parliament in 70 years.
She described an agreement, between Labor, the
Coalition and independents, to reform parliamentary processes,
as "an agreement of honour."
There are 32 new MPs in total, and only eight from the
Today`s opening comes five weeks after the federal
election failed to deliver a ruling majority for either major
party and resulted in weeks of uncertainty as parties
negotiated to form a minority government.