MORE than eight months after being sworn in as a Senator, Ricky Muir last week delivered his maiden speech in parliament.
The locally-based Senator, elected in 2013 on preferences despite receiving 0.51 per cent of the vote, spoke about a humble man who suddenly found himself in the national spotlight.
Admitting to be more comfortable wearing jeans and a T-shirt, Senator Muir said he didn’t own a suit before winning a spot in the Senate.
“I wanted to work in earth-moving or on a farm, in manufacturing, a factory, as a mechanic, with tools, wear stubbies, hi-vis and have the constant pale shade of a singlet embedded on my otherwise tanned skin,” he said.
“I wear this suit out of respect for this great chamber and the position I hold. But most importantly, I wear this suit to represent people just like me.”
The father of five children made a passionate defence of penalty rates, and spoke about “losing sleep when the general cost of living went up by just a tiny $20”.
“If you think $20 a week is nothing or just a pack of cigarettes or a beer, you have never lived in the real world,” he said.
“As somebody not born into wealth, I’ve had to work my way up with honesty and I can say working class Australia is sick of working their way just to pay the bills.”
It is such experience which inspired Senator Muir to represent working class people in rural areas.
Senator Muir made reference to the infamous television interview with Mike Willesee, when he was unable to explain what the automotive aftermarket industry was. The lesson Senator Muir received from that experience: “Just to be myself”.
Senator Muir defended the system of electing Senators based on the proportion of votes and complex distribution of preferences.
“There has been plenty of commentary of how the voting system is broken and un-democratic which in my eyes completely misses the point,” he said.
“For my crossbench colleagues and I to be elected, people had to be voting for parties other than the major parties, and they did.”
In closing, Senator Muir urged the public to judge him on his actions.
“So many politicians say the right thing at the right time, but do the opposite. Do not judge me by what I say; judge me by what I do.”