TRUE OPINION: Anyone who watches the performances of our politicians during Question Time in Federal Parliament House will likely need a few big bongs to get over it all, writes comedian and satirist Kieran Butler.
The Internet is chock full of musings from Australian political scribes about the farce that is Question Time in Australia’s federal Parliament. One wonders how many people actually watch it. You can tune in from anywhere across the vast intellectual wasteland that constitutes ‘the Australian electorate’; but a handful of journalists, political junkies and bong smoking university students are all that probably do.
A long time ago in a share house far, far away; my housemates and I (an assorted detritus of 1990’s youth unemployment) used to punch cones at 1.45 PM, and tune in for another episode of ‘Smackdowns from Honourable Members’. We learned nothing, but getting high in front of the TV for some free entertainment in the middle of a lazy afternoon, passed the time, and developed a healthy cynicism and disregard for the political process.
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Punching cones is back in vogue since #tametheimpaler was pictured cradling a bong. No wonder she is such a cynic. If I were completely honest, I wouldn’t trust anyone that didn’t do weed in some way, shape or form, so I was well impressed. Twitter sin-binned me for 12 hours for “hateful conduct” when I posted the below statement in response to the media hoopla earlier this week:
“Hateful conduct”: Supporting Australian Of The Year, Grace Tame, can land you in Twitter jail (Image: Supplied)
Is Twitter stupider than Facebook and TikTok put together? I doubt it. But it must be a close run thing. I have run foul of all of them. I may go into more detail at some point in the future.
When I was just 16-years-of-age, I wrote an essay about Australian politics that won me a trip to Canberra with opposition backbencher, Peter Reith. He sat me at a seat on the floor of the House of Representatives in the old Parliament House to watch Question Time from up close.
An elderly bloke rose to ask a question on behalf of his constituents. So as not to be heard over the unidirectional microphones, those opposite leaned down along the benches to whisper-shout in his general direction: “Sit down you stupid old bastard”.
If you thought this came as a shock to me as a 16-year-old, you’d be right. I was already well aware of what Wilson Tuckey had been getting up to in the clinches: Tuckey had been assigned the job of sledging Keating about ‘Christine’ from near the dispatch box. What I didn’t realise was that everyone was at it. It was a bar room brawl.
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Unbelievably, these were the halcyon days. There were some deadest word slinging mo-fos who had proper game. A suspension of standing orders often added to the sense of occasion. A loquacious and rambunctious hour of pointless questions, slander and invective was closed out with some oratory from an opposition leader who pumped up their government-in-waiting with a prepared diatribe of why the incumbent government was shithouse.
Long serving speaker Tony Smith threw in the towel last year. He was showered with praise from all sides of the aisle for being impartial and predictable. This apparently made him the best speaker in Parliamentary history – despite the fact impartiality and predictability are in the job description. It’s bullshit by the way. His impartiality was conditional on how poorly the government was performing. If they were no good, he’d give them a chop out every single time.
These days, Parliament sits for about 12 weeks a year. Standing orders are never suspended. The government moves “that the member no longer be heard”, and the LNP drones dutifully vote in support, which essentially dispenses with what is usually the headline act for the hour. I doubt it will ever come back. Surely the ALP would not be stupid enough to take the high moral ground, and allow a future opposition the opportunities they have been denied? Scratch that. Of course they are.
These days in Question Time, the Deputy Prime Minister is drunk most of the time, great oratory is confused with shouting and rehearsing idiotic three word slogans, and Dorothy Dixers are repetitive and formulaic. Those on the ALP opposition benches have still not worked out that unless you are abusing Parliamentary privilege to wind up the feckless members opposite, you might as well not turn up. If I ever get into Parliament, I’ll see myself out under 94A.
Instead, the ALP slavishly returns to the dispatch box at the beginning of each Parliamentary sitting to ask the government questions about policy and legislation. There are never any answers to these questions, and though it would appear that the ALP believes this proves a point in and of itself, it serves only to prove that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is the definition of progressive politics.
If you not going to use Question Time to ask Morrison questions like “If a rape happens in an office next door to yours, how long can you pretend it didn’t happen for?” or “Would you let your daughter go debating with Christian Porter?” you are wasting your time. Unless you are asking Joyce: “Are you slurring your speech and repeating yourself because you are completely shitfaced, or do you have a mild mental retardation?”, there is simply no point in being there.
This is what the ALP should do. Starting tomorrow. At 2.00 PM, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, when those two wankers who answer to the moniker “Mr Speaker” announce it is time for Questions without Notice, all ALP members should stand up, leave, hit the bar, and pound some beers like Barnaby Joyce in a midwifery clinic.
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Morrison would squeal like a stuck pig about people not doing their job, but without anyone opposite to berate, lampoon and lie to, the novelty of responding to one after another poorly written Dorothy Dixer, would begin to bore the government to tears. By 2.45 PM, Morrison would be getting out the ukulele to sing Sorrento Moon by Tina Arena.
It would make the news, providing the ALP with the opportunity to state that it is all completely pointless because nobody is watching it anyway; and that anything worth hearing is silenced by a motion that “the member no longer be heard”.
Four Corners confirmed this week just how thick Australian voters are. If the ALP did manage to win this election, it will only do so because the LNP are completely retarded. Not because of anything the ALP promises to do or say. So they should just stop bothering to show up to Question Time, punch a few cones with Grace Tame, and watch it on the tele.
Division required. Ring the bells.