EXCLUSIVE: AN INNOCUOUS question by Denmark-based MLA Terry Redman precipitated a spicy debate about muffins in State Parliament last week.
On May 21, Member for Warren-Blackwood Mr Redman asked how many Western Australians were projected to visit State Parliament in coming years.
Opposition Leader Mike Nahan asked if he could raise a related matter.
“It is a very important issue,” Dr Nahan said.
“A lot of children from my electorate come through Parliament and there are a lot of vigorous complaints about the shift from muffins and orange juice to badges.”
A modicum of bipartisanship was achieved when Labor Member for Morley Amber-Jade Sanderson exclaimed: ‘Yes!’.
“The member gets the same thing,” Dr Nahan reflected.
“In fact, it is almost at crisis point.
“I would like to inquire about why the shift was made.”
He said children from Doubleview Primary had recently visited Parliament “and it was afternoon tea and their tummies were rumbling”.
“I asked them what the most important thing was for them about coming to Parliament and they said that it was the muffins,” Dr Nahan elaborated.
“I had to tell them that they were not getting muffins and orange juice.”
He offered to pay to go back to the muffins and orange juice for all children in his electorate.
But then he looked momentarily left, just enough to allow one-time Denmark postmaster, former Olympic middle-distance runner and the third Western Australian to break the four-minute mile, Peter Watson, to chime in just as Roger Bannister had when overtaking John Landy on the final corner of their ‘miracle mile’ footrace at the ‘54 Empire Games.
“The big issue was getting people to cook the muffins, and then the muffins sat around for quite a time and there were health issues,” the Speaker of the House and Member for Albany explained.
“People said that when they brought their children to Parliament, we gave them muffins.
“A lot of people do not think muffins are healthy, including my doctor.”
Dr Nahan said Mr Watson’s waistline was a matter for the Speaker to consider.
“Please bring back the muffins,” he implored.
The State’s Executive Manager Parliamentary Services Rob Hunter conceded the muffins had become “quite a contentious issue”.
“It was bigger than we thought it might be,” he said.
“A number of factors made us change from muffins to pins; in fact, we transitioned to Crunch&Sip.
“We also had a chef who spent a significant amount of time cooking lots and lots of muffins—members can imagine how many muffins we were doing.”
Mr Hunter’s offsider Belinda Corey explained that feedback from schools about the Parliamentary pins has been “reasonably good”.
“When we went to the pins, we gave students something they could take away with them and keep,” she said.
“Instead of eating a muffin and then leaving and forgetting about it, they got a pin from Parliament House, so it is a lasting memento.
“Now that we have moved to the pins, when we do our regional outreach programs—we are now doing three outreach programs a year—the local member for those regions can provide pins to the schools that we visit, which previously we were not able to do with the muffin arrangement.”
Mr Watson congratulated Mr Hunter’s team “because those outreach programs are fantastic”.
“I went to the one in Albany,” he said.
A couple of the Member for Warren–Blackwood’s colleagues were there.
“The kids were just amazing.”
Dr Nahan agreed the outreach program was a “great idea”.
“I will bring a petition on muffins to Parliament,” he promised.
But the last word on Parliamentary treats belonged to Mr Redman.
“A few years ago, when I was talking to one of my school groups, Troy Buswell said that people normally get burgers and fries, and they were disappointed with muffins!” he concluded.