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Smoking ceremony to welcome new parliament

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Lisa Martin

Federal politicians have had their faces painted with golden ochre during an indigenous smoking ceremony at Parliament House.

It was part of a ceremonial opening to the 45th Parliament in Canberra on Tuesday.

Indigenous elder Tina Brown, dressed in a possum skin cloak and traditional decorations, led a procession of children, representing wedgetail eagles, shaking small tree branches in a women's welcome dance to cleanse the spirit.

The dance also aimed to help politicians make good decisions.

She acknowledged the elders of the Ngunnawal country and welcomed parliamentarians and their families who had packed out the Great Hall.

"It's the dust of the bones of my ancestors and the dust of the bones of your ancestors that mingle together, shaping this land, uniting us as custodians for its future," Ms Brown said.

She wished MPs and senators great courage and wisdom.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded to the welcome by speaking in the Ngunnawal language.

He also noted that next week would make 45 years since Neville Bonner, the first indigenous member of parliament, made his maiden speech.

"Today, as newly elected and re-elected representatives, it is our turn to feel the humility of which Neville Bonner spoke," Mr Turnbull said.

"Our parliament is charged with the responsibility of working with our first Australians as partners and supporters, closing the gap, ensuring that those who were first will no longer be last."

The new parliament welcomes three new indigenous members - Labor senators Patrick Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy and lower house MP Linda Burney - to join Ken Wyatt and Jacqui Lambie on its benches.

Senators Dodson and McCarthy will be ceremonially danced into their new positions in the Senate.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten urged the new parliament to rise above "self-seeking, narrow sectional interests".

""All of us who are elected are privileged custodians of the people's trust," he said.

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