Derryn Hinch falls asleep on first day in the Senate

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Sitting weeks in Parliament can be exhausting: early starts, late nights and countless appointments can take their toll come Thursday.

For newly minted senator Derryn Hinch, however, just getting through day one proved tiring. The Human Headline was snapped catching some shut-eye during Governor-General Peter Cosgrove’s welcoming address to the 45th Parliament.

A sprightly-sounding Hinch later told Fairfax Media he was “just resting the eyes for a minute” after a busy first day in the office and a late night on television.

“It’s a baptism of fire,” he said. “I tried to get a half-hour kip this afternoon . . . and the bloody bell started ringing at four minutes to five.”

The senator’s nap is especially notable because only four days ago he put out a media release warning that his colleagues had only themselves to blame if they were photographed dozing.

Senator Hinch, who entered the chamber with his shirt untucked, is a vocal supporter of unwinding the rules that restrict press gallery photographers from freely taking pictures of senators. Currently, senators may only be photographed when they have the call to speak.

The restrictions were suspended on Tuesday for the swearing in of the new Parliament, but Senator Hinch wants them removed entirely.

“People have a right to see exactly what is happening on both sides of the Parliament,” he said last Friday. “The media – and thus the public – should be able to see us in action, or photograph our inaction. If you get caught nibbling your ear wax, or counting your money or dozing: tough.”

Senator Hinch told Fairfax Media he would continue to fight for greater transparency despite being “caught out” by Fairfax Media’s cameras on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t dissuade me at all,” he said. “It’s ironic because I’m the one who wants to let the photographers in there.”

He is far from the first politician to fall asleep in the chamber. Clive Palmer was notorious for taking a kip or two, blaming Tony Abbott for boring him with non-answers – and Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm was also spotted yawning on Tuesday.

For the record, Senator Hinch said it was not Sir Peter’s extended outline of the Turnbull government’s agenda that put him under.

“It wasn’t the Governor-General’s speech – although we’ve heard all that before many times on the campaign trail,” he said. “Late nights, early starts. That’s what I’m in for.”

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