Question Time: a petition for change

tony-gillardWe should adopt a policy advocating reform of Question Time.

It does not serve its purpose. It does not set an example for public debate. It should be completely re-thought.

I spent a number of days in the Federal Parliament this year and it’s not pretty. What you miss on TV but understand watching the whole chamber is the animalistic nature of it.

Two packs of animals. Someone runs up to the other pack, bares their teeth, then scurries back to their pack. It is a contest of intimidation. When a weakness is detected in a pack, the voices of the opposing pack rise up in catcall and ridicule. They sniff blood; the volume of animal noises increases. It is what I imagine a stoning is like.

Almost every question from the opposition attempts to embarrass the government, not solicit information. The repetition is sickening. Questions are repeated with minor variations so as to find a weak spot and dictate the news cycle.

Questions are almost all about the past. The questioners want to find an inconsistency, a failure, a lie. They want to attack. They want the media to righteously demolish their enemy.

Almost every answer blunts the attack by speaking for as long and indirectly as possible. When the government asks a question of itself it is designed to use up time and talk positively about accomplishments. Or about the failings of the opposition in previous years. Answers are press releases. How many thousands of bureaucratic hours are wasted in this?

I watched David Cameron in the House of Commons the day he answered 138 questions from the Opposition about phone hacking. Short, direct answers. The British Parliament is not perfect; it is adversarial and backwards-looking like ours, but there is respect and debate that is a level above what happens in Australia. Find me a politician that says different.

All of Australia talks about the brattish, churlish, unproductive, attention-seeking nature of Question Time. We should petition the Parliament for change.

Photo sourced from MystifyMe Concert Photography (Troy).

Senator Harradine a Worthy but Deluded Opponent: Eros

HarradinePortrait

The Eros Association today paid tribute to the man they locked horns with more times than they cared to remember. Eros CEO Fiona Patten said that he was a formidable political opponent, driven by his religious convictions and a cultural mindset stuck in the 1950s. “From the late 1980s onward, he used his balance of power in the Senate to try and roll back the supernova of eroticism that was exploding all around him”, she said. “He knew how to work a government like nobody else and was always one step ahead of them in his efforts to ban pornography. But he did not understand that the technological revolution of the 1990s was the beginning of a new way of life and that pornography was an integral part of that life. He thought if you can control the brown paper bags, you could control what was in them.”

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ACT banmull

ACT Attorney General, Simon Corbell has sided with the old style prohibitionists by introducing new drug laws in the ACT Parliament today. Australian Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said the laws will continue to fail and will be rejected by Canberrans’ progressive attitudes.

She said marijuana and heroin had been banned for almost 100 years in Australia but were never more popular than now. ‘It is disappointing to see a Gen X Attorney General, supporting the same tired old prohibitionist policies that ignorant politicians used to ban alcohol as far back as the 1920s’, she said. ‘We support his moves to reduce the numbers of young people going to jail for personal possession of drugs but it is disingenuous in the extreme to try and separate out different ends of the recreational drug market and makes saints out of one end and sinners of the other. Reducing the harm done to people and society by recreational drug use requires a holistic approach based in the health portfolio - not in the criminal justice one.’

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