MPs’ dress code debated as Greens MP gives up his tie

Conaghan was unimpressed, insisting the Greens MP had breached the dress code.

“It’s not a barbecue. It’s Question Time in the Australian Parliament. What next, boardshorts and flip flops? Maybe a onesie in the winter,” he said in a statement to the following the controversy.

“Some may say it’s a minor matter not to conform to the standard of dress, but what it says to many, including me, is that there is little respect for tradition and the history of our parliament.”

According to the official rules — the House of Representatives Practice (7th Edition) — dress in the chamber is a matter of individual judgment of the MP, but “ultimate discretion rests with the Speaker”.

Indeed, the 1000-page tome documents the evolution of this discretion over the decades. In 1977, the president ruled that tailored safari suits without a tie were acceptable, laying the groundwork for Ruddock’s camel-colored number decades later. Earlier rulings dating back to the 1920s allowed members to wear hats, but not when entering or leaving the chamber or when speaking.


In 1999 Speaker Neil Andrew told the House that the widely accepted standard of business dress involved good trousers, jacket, collar and tie for men and a similar standard of formality for women, but he did not would not apply rigidly.

This was endorsed by Chairman David Hawker in 2005, who authorized tieless forays into the bedroom under certain circumstances, but drew a firm line on “casual attire”.

“However, while I accept that members in a hurry to attend a division or college sometimes arrive without a jacket or tie, it is not in keeping with the dignity of the House for members to arrive in casual dress or sports,” he said.

In 2022, in a hurry or not, ties are not binding.

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