EYE-BALL Opinion – The Australian Parliament – Question Time – Standing Orders – and the abuse of –
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– Question Time – Standing Orders – and the abuse of –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 17th Feb 2013 |
|After another fortnight of frustrating Parliamentary ‘Question Time’ – there comes a time where the rules governing the conduct of the ‘House Question Time’ needs to be reviewed with an agenda to make the conduct of MP’s, and the relevance of responses more accountable.
The belief is that a group and nondescript lawyers have bought their own ‘waffle’ of words into the parliamentary process. As a result our Parliament has descended to be the most invective of debate forums anywhere in Australia.
If one chooses to watch ‘Question Time’, is has become a convention for unsuccessful lawyers who have hijacked our Parliamentary process, and used as an opportunity to stroke their own egos.
Do any of them watch replays of themselves and their behaviour, do they seek objective opinion about their performances?
A great number of these ALP MP’s are Union appointed. They are throw aways from the private sector – failed lawyers who could not make it in the private sector.
They are now infecting our Government and its process with their ‘lawyer-squawk’. Any any Magistrate, Judge, or High Court Justice would admonish them for being – ‘in contempt of court’, ‘misconduct’, ‘out of order’, ‘abuse of privilege’, and in some cases ‘criminally negligent’.
If they’re allowed to continue to Govern, they will lead this Nation down a path that places the population as accountable and responsible for this Government’s poor management.
This is the caliber of our MP’s, The PM, The Treasurer, the then AG – the big three positions in the Government. All without morals, without integrity, without backgrounds, without the intelligence that qualify them, and without the experience or knowledge base to allow them to Govern this Nation effectively.
The weakness of our MP’s is duplicated by the rules they have written for themselves that make their task as Leaders of our Nation easier and less accountable. To give weight to this debate – an examination of the current ‘Standing Orders’ has concluded – see below:
House of Representatives – ‘Standing Orders’:
They’re just a few – but the ‘Standing Orders’ is a protocol outlining the conduct of the House. It is the guideline in which The Speaker must adjudicate when it comes to the conduct of wayward Members. It is important to know what those rules are when it comes to ‘Question Time’ when the House is at its rowdiest … some of the rules The Speaker has at their disposal are produce below …
The above rules were updated in 2010 from the version established in 2003 – the comparisons for the ‘Rules of Questions can be made using the 2003 version displayed below.
Now we return to the ‘Answers’ section under the current Standing Orders.
The most interesting point of these ‘Standing Order’ rules relating to answers to questions asked is the answer – ‘must be directly relevant to the question’.
What is frustrating is when you hear, Gillard, Swan. Shorten, Combet, Roxon, Emerson and other Ministers ‘waffle’ on in their own preamble until the expected ‘point of order’ is made on ‘reference’ – the next dilemma comes about because of the obvious bias The Speaker has toward the Government. The Speakers actions and responses so often fail the House miserably.
This is where the conduct of the ‘House’ starts and stops.
The Speaker is appointed by the Government so you can expect that the Government will be given latitude in its responses. When the Coalition are in Government under the current Standing Orders – they will act the same way.
This is the ‘lawyer’ background of so many of the MP’s serving in the ‘House’ destroying our Parliamentary process.
When a Minister does not want to answer the question directly – it is a breach of the ‘Standing Orders’. Why is the ‘point of order’ on ‘reference’ up to the Opposition to bring to the attention of the Speaker?
With the 2010 rule change – and with the new 4 minute time-limit on responses – wasting the ‘House’s’ time becomes a part of the tactics employed by the Government to avoid exposing weakness in the response to the question.
Rather then admit errors or policy failures, or give a single ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, Ministers are schooled in how to avoid admitting anything that would represent a direct response. Again – lawyer training is demeaning the ‘House’.
Minister’s use the podium time to ‘waffle’ into their own grandiose diatribe , often ‘blaming those opposite’, and doing everything to avoid a direct answer.
The Speaker has no right to allow this conduct and the fact that they do – diminishes ‘Question Time’ into embarrassment for all who attend and watch.
Politicians on both sides expect the same latitude when outside the Chamber and in front of the media – rarely is a media question answered with relevance or directness. It is a failing of the media in allowing this to happen. It is hard to measure what came first – the media going soft on MP’s and Ministers, or the Speaker allowing the same bad behaviour in the ‘House’.
An independent Speaker – i.e. not a Politician, but someone who has ‘High Court’ type credentials, and given the power to impose ‘monetary’ fines on Members who break the rules would soon bring the ‘House’ to a higher level of accountability.
Rather then ‘warn, name, suspend’ and the like – can you think that interjecting and wayward Members would continue to misbehave if they were fined – ‘2%, 5%, and 10%’ of their Parliamentary Salary for similar behaviour. The rest of Australia is governed by monetary fines when they break Societal Laws – why should our Politicians not have the same deterrent factor?
Also – suspending a Member harms the constituents they represent, the constituents should always be represented in the ‘House’.
There is a conflict in these rules – recently Thompson was arrested and was due to face court during a sitting the ‘House’ is sitting because it would disadvantage the constituents that MP represents. Yet – the ‘Standing Orders’ allows for suspensions for a Members bad behaviour. This is duplicity in its extreme and a bunch of serious barristers and lawyers have not recognised this conflict.
UK Parliament Procedures:
Suspensions happen in the UK Parliament – but Members forfeit their salary entitlements for the period of their suspension. See UK ‘Standing Orders’ link here – see section 44-45 below … which states in part:
Alternative Question Policy:
Another process that diminishes the process of Government is the alternate question policy.
Why does the Government need to ask itself about its own policy’s?
The responses are heavy with propaganda as if selling and busking on a street corner – what is the purpose and legality of the Government asking itself questions – reference is made again to the Standing Orders –
This highlighted section also appears in the 2003 ‘Standing Orders’ version word-for-word.
The – ‘but seek an explanation about the policy and its application’ – is a broad scope and when it happens – the Opposition go to sleep as does most of the viewers. The Minister responding to these ‘prop’ questions do so with gratuitous electorate recognition and thank-you’s to the MP’s asking the question. The Government share these questions around to give all the backbenches face time on the TV broadcast. It is so obvious …
The Government of the day has ample opportunity to announce and sell their initiatives and policy’s outside the Chamber.
Why has the ‘Standing Orders’ diminished in its intent in allowing Party propaganda to take up 50% of the Question Time session?
I am so sick of the ‘catharsis’ – it is not in the electorate’s interest – it lowers the intelligence standards of MP’s and is suited to the dumb-downed lawyers now filling the House as an alternative and lucrative career choice.
Their mono-log oration skills, their diminished argument skills, their lack of quick wit, their boring occupation of the podium diminishes our Parliament day after day. Question Time is now as boring as watching afternoon ‘Play School – and many times much worse.
In summary – Question Time is the opportunity for The Opposition to try and tag the Government, and the Government does its best to avoid being directly relevant to the question … as stated – a waste of time.
The ‘Disorder’ section of the ‘Standing Orders’:
The section covering ‘Disorder’ is produced below:
A great number of these ‘Standing Orders’ are broken during every Question time session – the duplicity in the Government expecting everybody in the Nation to comply with Rules and Regulations, is compromised when our Leaders blatantly defy the Speaker and threaten her resolve and patience.
Members are often ‘in contempt’ and disrespectful to the MP’s opposite one another.
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