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).

War On The Salvos!

MoralCompas

The Salvation Army have quietly been chipping away at social reforms over the years and although they appear to do good charitable work in the community, today’s media release by Aletha Blayse puts another view forward on this. As John Howard’s advisor on illicit drug regulation the Salvos’ Major Brian Watters put the case for drug law reform back a hundred years. Tell the Salvos to stop interfering in Australia’s moral compass and get on with feeding the poor. Join the demonstration in Sydney.

White Shield Appeal Campaign
Protest Against Salvation Army

Sydney, 17th-31st July, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (Salvation Army Headquarters)

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Sex Party calls for action not promises on HIV and the law

Justice

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian Health Minister to reconsider his announcement and repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act that makes it an offence to intentionally cause a serious disease (with HIV exclusively defined as a serious disease).

Party president Fiona Patten said that the section of the Act in question was introduced exclusively to address a fear of HIV infection 21 years ago. “To remove the stigma of this discriminatory and ineffective regulation it must be removed in its entirety”, she said. “UN AIDS has stated that criminalisation of HIV does not lead to positive outcomes for the community and adversely affects people living with and without HIV.

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