Why do members of parliament say hear, hear after someone from their party has spoken?

‘Hear, hear’ is an expression used by members of parliament to show their support for a speech. It is a short form of ‘hear them, hear them’ and is a way of saying, 'listen to what is being said—it’s important!'

The saying has a long history in the UK Parliament. It goes back to the 1600s and developed as a form of cheering. Applause or clapping was discouraged—and sometimes forbidden—so ‘hear, hear’ became a quick and effective way to show support and cheer on a team-mate.

Like many practices from the British Parliament, the custom of not clapping but saying ‘hear, hear’ was passed down to the Australian Parliament and is widely used today.

A white man in a suit gestures to his right. His left hand rests on a piece of paper on a large box. There is a microphone in front of him. Behind smiling people sit on a green bench

A minister speaking in the House of Representatives.

Michael Masters/DPS Auspic

A minister speaking in the House of Representatives.

A white man in a suit gestures to his right. His left hand rests on a piece of paper on a large box. There is a microphone in front of him. Behind smiling people sit on a green bench

Michael Masters/DPS Auspic

Description

A minister gestures while answering a question during Question Time in the House of Represenatives.