'It can be boring. It can be riveting. It can be silly. It can be vital to democracy'

The Star’s Joanna Smith gazes upon the Senate, survives to report back.

In the back row, her fellow newbie Patrick Brazeau puts away his package of photocopied news clippings in time for oral questions, only to become engrossed in a game of what appears to be Sudoku.

Senator Mike Duffy, who ambled in a little late to sit down in his seat closer to the centre of the row, soon looks up from his mobile device to notice the lone individual sitting in the press gallery – usually an abandoned space outside of throne speeches and constitutional squabbles of decades past – and begins consulting with a nearby colleague about what she could possibly be doing up there.

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