What has two rings and features clowns, wild animals and the odd freak or two? A circus? Well, apparently it is our shiny new parliament.
Days before the opening of the new parliament, the Prime Minister assured the West Australian Liberal Party that the new parliament would be a different beast and that the memories of the embarrassing, divisive and plain old rude one would soon be a fading and bad memory.
It seems that a leopard can’t change it’s spots, no matter what it promises. In spite of Mr Abbott’s promise that it would be a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuse individuals” the Manager of Government Business, The Hon. Christopher Pyne could not wait the start the name-calling by referring to the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Bill Shorten as “Electricity Bill Shorten”. This brought an immediate response from the Manager of Opposition Business, The Hon. Tony Burke. He rose to point out the on the previous day there had been much said about the use of proper titles in parliament, and that Mr. Pyne’s labelling of the LOTO in this way was inappropriate and should be with drawn.
The new Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop.
The new Speaker, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, sorry, Madame Speaker, as she requires to be called, cracked her metaphorical whip and ruled that the Manager of Government Business’ name calling was not unparliamentary.
What then ensued was farcical, coupled with some slow motion slapstick comedy. A motion of dissent was raised followed by a series of votes, for which division was called on every one. The call for division required all members of the house to align themselves either for or against the motion. For most it meant moving from one side of the chamber to the other. This was not done with any sense of haste. Perhaps it was to maintain the dignity of the house, but it looked more like a race to be the slowest.
Had the new speaker of this shiny new parliament showed leadership, without fear or failure? Not in my view. What we saw was blatant favouritism of “her” side in parliament, an inability to maintain order and a complete disregard of her leader’s pledges regarding a more decorous house of meaningful debate on issues and of respect for individuals.
Allowing Christopher Pyne to continue in the same feral, hysterical style he used while in Opposition clearly demonstrates that there is no “new” parliament to be seen. If you thought the previous parliament sunk to unplumbed depths, and it did, you could hold little hope of improvement from what was on show in this one’s first week.
I am a former public servant and industrial officer for a public sector union. I have had a persistent interest in politics for many years. I also enjoy the theatre, having participated in my younger days.