Friday, 17 February 2012

There was a walkout in Parliament

yesterday. The Leader of the National Party was thrown out for "interjecting" and his colleagues followed him in protest.
Interestingly little has been made of this in the media. Rather than being concerned by the lack of confidence being shown in the Speaker of the House the media seems to have found it mildly amusing.
I have mentioned the new Speaker before. He deserted his party in order to take on the position and, in doing so, has also deserted his electorate. Officially he is still their representative. Unofficially he will get nothing done. He is not even able to negotiate any "pork-barrelling" for his electorate because the government knows he will not be there after the next election.
His performance so far has been abysmal. The former Speaker was respected by both sides of politics. In  a tactical move he left the job so that the government could try and maintain their shaky grip on power by having one more vote on the floor of the house. In doing so they have damaged democracy, perhaps to the point where it is irreparable. The government now has a Speaker whom they control, not one who controls them.
All that may seem rather entertaining, particularly if you support the government. It is, no doubt, fun to see the Opposition in such strife. The problem is that debate is now being stifled. The government is aware that debate is dangerous. It desperately needs to get certain measures through. The measures are not about good governance but about covering up as much as they can before the next election. There should have been an outcry about the "pink batts scheme", "the BER scheme", "the NBN" and the "$700 set-top-box scheme". They even managed to stifle debate on the health insurance rebate and the carbon tax...both of which will (however fair they may seem on the surface) cost jobs and, in the end, taxpayers more than they do for the economy.
Parliament has always been rather unruly. The House of Commons always seems rather staid compared with our "mob of larrikins". It takes a strong personality to control them. The new Speaker does not have that. He does not have respect. Yesterday the National Party members (part of the Coalition which forms the Opposition) managed, with very little fuss, to indicate that. I have no doubt there will be payback for that today.
I wonder what would happen if the entire Opposition walked just long enough to show their lack of support?


Frances said...

I'm not partisan here, Cat, but I do notice that in other, non-Murdoch, newspapers, this report ended with Warren Truss quoted as saying: "Question Time is a time of theatre and can sometimes be quite noisy. The current speaker is clearly trying to change that."

I have read comments by people who watch Question Time on tv, that Slipper is introducing a welcome order and discipline into the proceedings. As I haven't watched it, I have no opinion: but, I would think that order and discipline were long overdue.
When Peta Credlin, advisor to Tony Abbott, started interjecting in the parliament although she is a staffer, not an elected member. I thought his call was long overdue.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Peta Credlin should not have interjected.
Nevertheless I have spent some time in Parliament House in the last week and there is considerable disquiet at the way the Speaker is handling his role.
Order and discipline would be welcome but debate has to be made possible not denied. Chris

catdownunder said...

I agree Frances, Peta Credlin should not have interjected. That said I know, as Chris says, there is a (quite strong) feeling that Slipper is being less than even handed in the way he handles Question Time. When members on both sides of the house feel this way - and they seem to - then it probably is time to put his behaviour under the microscope. All I wanted to do though was ask what would happen if the entire Opposition had walked out? Slipper might have wanted to eject them on their return but, whatever he did, it would have been a no-win situation for him. As it is the Nationals have probably done more damage to him than themselves.