February 24, 2008


Parliamentary uproar in this age of 'bipartisanship' (Dennis Shanahan, February 23, 2008, The Australian)

THE first people's Friday sitting of parliament turned into farcical Friday, and the tragedy of an unworkable House of Representatives.

A mixture of bullying, pure politics, personal animosity, flawed execution, confusion and angst bookended Labor's triumph on its first sitting day two weeks ago with a debacle on its last.

Determined to make a point that Kevin Rudd would not be attending the new backbenchers' Friday, the Coalition was prepared to break almost every parliamentary convention.

Determined to make a point that they were in charge, the Government brooked no suggestion of compromise and toughed out some of the most torrid parliamentary behaviour in years. As a result, the speaker's position was compromised, parliament became unworkable - suspended twice - and, as deputy speaker Anna Burke said, her position was untenable.

There were as many Government MPs unsure of what was supposed to be happening as Coalition MPs, and that wasn't just newcomers. The whole idea of a day of private members' speeches without ministers unravelled. [...]

In the end, the challenge for the Coalition is that it will face some public hostility for its antics yesterday and have to decide if it can keep it up.

For the Government, the challenge will be to decide if parliamentary uproar in the long term does enough damage to a new Government for it to drop "the new politics of bipartisanship".

At the moment bipartisanship looks like a game of water polo, all sporting and action above the water and all kicking and gouging beneath.

If bipartisanship were a good thing we'd only have one party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2008 6:10 AM

All the rancor and "debate" is mostly faked for the electorate.

In the back rooms, they pretty much are one party, as the Pelosis and Reids blunt the loonies and Boehner and Lott (now off to Lobby for the monoparty) corral the RSC and other peers smarter than them.

Behind the scenes, there is only one party.

Posted by: Bruno at February 24, 2008 10:01 AM