“It’s an absolute honour to be here representing Gilmore,” new MP Fiona Phillips says as she wraps up her first week in federal parliament.
Phillips’ win in Gilmore at the May 18 election was one of the only bright spots for Labor. The former TAFE teacher beat Liberal Party star recruit Warren Mundine by almost 6,000 votes two-party preferred with a 3.3% swing.
Ms Phillips was sworn into the 46th Parliament as one of 27 new members this week, the first sitting of parliament since the election.
“I had the official House of Representatives induction last week, which was a wonderful couple of days,” she says.
“That was the first time I’d been on to the floor of the chamber and that’s where they teach you all the important protocols.
“And my maiden speech is likely to be the 3oth of July, I have to be careful not to speak before then, otherwise whatever I say will be recorded as my maiden speech.”
Ms Phillips can still vote and take part in parliamentary committees, ” I just can’t speak in parliament until my maiden speech.”
Sitting on the green seats in the house for the first time this week, Ms Phillips sits behind leader Anthony Albanese, “two or three rows back, you can see the sleeve of my jacket on the TV.”
“But I am in full view when Tony Burke speaks,” she laughs.
Ms Phillips is straight into the real work of parliament, “I’ve met with SEATS (South East Australia Transport Strategy) regarding the Princes Highway, that was my first official meeting.”
“We (Labor) are keen to bring forward some of that funding and get those improvements done sooner.
“Dairy farmers are on my agenda, I’ve been appointed to the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture and the NBN Joint Committee dealing with regional issues.”
In terms of finding a Canberra home base, there is more work to do and some adjustments for the Phillips family to make. Ms Phillips’ electorate office will stay in Nowra, the same location as the former member Anne Sudmalis on Junction Street.
“Walking past all the portraits in Parliament House I’ve had to pinch myself, but I am looking forward to settling in and fighting for the interests of Gilmore,” Ms Phillips says.