‘Hear, hear’ is an expression used by members of Parliament to show their support for a speech they have just heard, or are still listening to, in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. It is a short form of ‘hear them, hear them’ and is a way of stating: listen to what is being said—it’s important!
The saying has a long history of use in the British Houses of Parliament, going back to the 1600s, and developed as a form of cheering. Applause or clapping was generally 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’ has passed down to the Australian Parliament and is widely used today.