Monday, 20 July 2009

Reading in the house

is not something that would normally cause comment. When that 'house' is the lower chamber of our state parliament however itis cause for comment. Last week one of the intrepid Advertiser journalists apparently spent the hour which is supposedly "Question Time" observing our elected representatives at "work". The results are reported in this morning's paper.
Even allowing for the usual journalistic licence and exaggeration the report makes curious reading.
Several people were reading newspapers. Now this might, just might, be considered part of the politician's job. They need to know what people are saying about them. A past pollie of my acquaintance used to greet me occasionally with the words, "Good one Cat" or "Did you have to Cat?" or "You're wrong Cat" or some like comment about a letter I had written to the editor. It is nice to know they (sometimes) read them. Reading the paper may not be terribly polite but it is just about tolerable. Taking papers in to work on is about the same. Taking a novel or a magazine - not polite.
All such things pale into insignificance against the mobile 'phone. The modern mobile 'phone offers access to the internet, to Twitter, to anyone you care to name (if they care to speak to you). It offers games and shopping and movies and just about anything else you care to think of - apart from sustenance. It is the mobile 'phones which were apparently in full swing. Even the Speaker was playing with his. This is not merely impolite. It is rude. It is insulting.
We are compelled to attend the ballot box and mark the ballot paper in Australia. Most people see that as a requirement to vote. Voting is a right. It should be seen as privilege. It should not be compulsory. We most certainly should not be required to elect a government and then have them return the trust we have placed in them with the games they play.
Quite simply these people were playing. They were not doing their job. It is not democracy.

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