Sunday, 26 September 2010

Apparently the much anticipated

"big match", the grand final was not final at all. The match ended in a draw.
Now I have no interest in football and spent the afternoon cosily tucked up in the local library with the somewhat depleted knitting group. We spent some time investigating the intricacies of the Norwegian cast on as one of the group wants to try it on a hat. Football did not even get mentioned.
Out in the real world it was a different story. As we left the library I could hear the match being relayed over loud speakers from the pub a little further down on the opposite side of the road. The assumption seemed to be that everyone passing also needed to know what was going on. This is Aussie Rules football and everyone is interested right? Wrong. I am not. My father is not. There are many other people I know who are not - and there are other people I know who are fanatical about football.
Something did interest me however and that was something that occurred at the pre-match shenanigans. As always the Prime Minister gets invited to the breakfast. Now anyone living here will know that the new government has had a problem with finding a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.
Finding a Speaker should not have been a problem at all. The previous Speaker was still available. Given a casting vote he would do the conventional thing and side with the government. He is also considered to have been good at the job and much more even handed than most Speakers. So, what's the problem? The problem is that he has been good at the job and that he has been even handed and that he is respected by the Opposition. The government has the slimmest of margins and they did not want someone like that. They wanted one of the 'independents' to give up their voting rights instead and thus give them an extra vote instead. They also wanted someone who would be less even handed - and it would have been in the interest of the independent to favour the government, keep them in power and not go to an election.
They will, all going to plan, end up with the previous Speaker. This is almost certainly the best outcome for democracy.
The problems do not end there. They also need a deputy for the Speaker. They want that person to be 'paired' with the Speaker, again so that their own slim margin will not be affected. 'Pairing' arrangements allow people, such as Ministers, to be absent from parliament by prior arrangement but pairing arrangements do not and should not apply to the role of Speaker. This is constitutionally unsound. It also erodes democracy. There have been mutterings of "if both sides agree to the arrangement then what's the problem?"
The first problem is that the opposition member 'paired' would lose the right to represent their electorate. (The Speaker does not because s/he has a casting vote in the event of a tie.) That denies people their voice in parliament.
The second problem is that it interferes with the wider democratic process. A Bill passed under these circumstances could be open to legal challenges.
If we end up with a draw in parliament then that seems to me to be a much more serious thing than a draw on the football field. The latter is really of no importance at all.


Donna Hosie said...

The AFL Final was one of the most exciting games (of any sport) that I have witnessed. LOVED it!

The Liberals now have their purpose which is to bring down this Government. New elections within 18 months, I reckon.

catdownunder said...

I am with Abbott on the Speaker issue though - the 'pairing' arrangement wanted by Labor is almost certainly unconstitutional and, even if not, I see no reason why an electorate should lose their representation in order to keep the government they did not vote for in power. (Same thing occurred here in the upper house some years back and the then govt did not ask for this arrangement.)