A Modest Proposal
Russell Degnan

Having had time while in Canberra to take in Parliament on a couple of occasions, I had to admit my dissapointment. The lack of any actual policy debate was compounded with indifference, posturing, shouting, and heckling; even divisions produce foregone conclusions as everyone troops in to stand around making jokes for a few minutes before dispersing. All in all it is quite boring, and so, I humbly offer up a few suggestions to reinvigorate Australian democracy.

Answers in question time have to be yes or no only.
No more tedious answers to dorothy-dixes, no long-winded diatribes on the previous government and the failures of the opposition; nothing but punch. "Mr Treasurer, will the budget be in surplus this year? Yes", "Mr. Prime Minister, did children actually get thrown overboard? Ah... No", "Minister, have you stopped beating your wife?..."

Allow members to be dragged across the floor during a division.
Forget the balance of power, now it is all the weight of your factional heavies. Sure, parliament becomes little more than a pub brawl, but what an entertaining one. Think of the match-ups: Vanstone v Ray, Ruddock v Garrett, Downer v Kate Ellis (I'm tipping Ellis).

Replace the governor-general with a heinous beast.
Expand the reserve powers to include scratching, biting, and mauling; and replace Yarrallumla with a gladiatorial arena. The final hurdle to pass legislation will now involve hand-to-hand combat against lions, tigers and gorillas with the Prime Minister armed with nothing more dangerous than a mandate from the Australian people. Should do wonders for Costello's leadership aspirations.

More houses.
Sure, we've got the House of the people and the State's House, but it hasn't been enough to stop bad laws being passed. I propose a few more: the House of Fun, the House of Pain, the House of Cards, the House of Ill-repute, and the Little House on the Prairie. And the good thing is, Canberra has most of these already.

Misleading parliament should be met by a formal challenge.
Noone ever admits to lying in parliament, "I'm sure if you examine Hansard you'll note that I said nothing at all". But under this new system, who cares? Nothing says you misled the House like a glove on the chamber floor, and two feet of steel in the gullet.

Not that any of these improve the quality of legislation of course, but if they are going to act like bogans we, the Australian public, should at least see a little blood on the floor.

Passing Fancy 22nd December, 2005 13:15:14   [#] 


An election platform if ever I heard one
Dammit Russ, if you ran on a ticket that introduced even one of those measures, I'd be votin' for you in a red hot second.

Happy festival season to you and yours!
jon  23rd December, 2005 10:30:53  

A Modest Proposal
thankyou Jon, you're either too kind, or bereft of choice.

Enjoy your holidays.
Russ  24th December, 2005 11:17:02  

Downer vs. Ellis
I think you'd be right about Ellis vs. Downer; I'd go further and say Dolly would be *enjoying* himself; it'd be just like old times at Brinsmead... ;)
Robert Merkel  24th December, 2005 19:24:40