No 'mates' in Australia's Parliament House

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Security guards at Parliament House in Canberra have been advised by internal memo not to use the word 'mate' when communicating with the public.

The Speaker of the house has been asked to look into the directive after it was rumoured that a member of Parliament or a senior public servant complained about use of the common Australian term.

The Secretary for the Department of Parliamentary Services said on ABC TV: "There was a feeling that they perhaps just needed a reminder that some informality, while it may be appropriate for some people, it may not suit all our visitors."

Australian Labor Party MP Tanya Plibersek said the ban was un-Australian. "I can't tell you how offended I am by this," he said, while reaction from the Liberals and Nationals was mixed.

"I think that people should get off their high horse and take a reality check," said Liberal backbencher Bob Baldwin, who believes the word should be treated as a badge of honour. "I have never seen anything so criminal in all my life. It's part of the Australian vernacular. It's a term of endearment and of mateship."

Nationals MP Paul Neville said "If they want to call me mate or buddy or something like that, I'm not the least bit offended."