for State Parliament this year. This was announced yesterday. This is down from 62 in 2007 and 46 last year.
Our "we have a mandate although we only got 48% of the vote" government has apparently decided that it does not need to face the Opposition too often. Who can blame them? It is a sorry state of affairs for democracy.
According to a government spokesman this is going to be long enough to allow them to deal with all the business they need to deal with. They have made it plain there is no room for debate. Legislation to deal with a number of issues for which they do not have a mandate will just be pushed through. Some of these are big ticket items that do not even have the support of their own side of politics but - they have the numbers. They will do it.
I believe Westminster sat for about 160 days last year. No doubt not everyone attended all that time but there would have been people there. It would also mean that visitors could have seen that version of democracy at work. There would have been opportunities to debate the issues in front of them and opportunities to raise other issues of concern in question time.
Here, both state and federally, question time gets hi-jacked by the party in power. Does it happen in the UK? I do not know, quite possibly.
Our Premier says he is fighting for a water allocation (which we are entitled to by law so the 'fight' is political speak for "aren't I such a good boy for doing this for you") and is busy being nice to the Prime Minister - in public. The Queensland Premier is being nice too - but then the Prime Minister comes from that state and the Premier knows on which side the political bread is buttered. Debate does not really enter the equation.
So, I was interested in the reactions to the first television debate of the leaders in the UK. Many people seemed to think that the candidate with the least chance of winning the election was the winner. It was an interesting reaction. The two main contenders were both heavily criticised and then praised.
I do not really know enough about it. I saw some of the debate because it was reported on both local and international news services that I follow for other reasons. My own impressions were of something else altogether. Compared with our politicians those looking to lead in Westminster were so very polite to one another. Perhaps this is because it was the first televised debate?
Whatever it was it made one thing very clear - our version of democracy is crumbling rapidly.