Day Three – Canberra

Day three begins.  I am still loving it, but Canberra weather still sucks!  IT’S SO COLD!  Anyway, today started later than I would have liked.  I slept for almost 11 hours after going to bed really early and didn’t get to parliament house til 10am.  I am extremely annoyed right now because the paper I spent all day taking notes on is now missing.  NOT HAPPY!

I started off in the house of reps and listened to some very interesting amendments to extradition legislation being debated.  Then I headed over to the senate to listen to lots of stuff on the carbon tax as well as a fascinating speech about child pageantry.  It’s not up on Hansard yet, but when it is, I’ll link you to it.  It’s well worth looking at.  It was pretty much about how we shouldn’t go down the path of the Americans and expose children as young as 1 month old to being paraded around like spectacles with so much artificial enhancement.  There was lots of psychiatric evidence to support it’s damaging effects.

One of the funnier things I heard in the senate today was a metaphor about carbon farming comparing apples with apples (and oranges).  The guy sort of stopped his metaphor half way though and said “It’s like comparing apples with another region”.  It make me giggle anyway.  It was probably funnier if you were there…

I have listened to so much debate this week about the carbon tax that I feel like I understand it so much better than I did last week.  Personally I think the tax is a good thing, but of course there are some drawbacks.  There will inevitably be so.  This afternoon I listened to the [Liberal] member for macmillan speak against the carbon tax.  I was deeply saddened by his appeal to labor back benches to stand against it so as to save their own jobs.  His argument was that when new taxes were brought in in the 90’s, he lost his seat because his constituents didn’t like the tax.  Therefore the labor back benches are going to get voted out because of this carbon tax.  To look after themselves they should stand against it.  He unashamedly told them they shouldn’t look out for the environment or the interests of the country, but think about their own job security.  I could not believe I was hearing that.  Either he is speaking against Liberal policy or this is the lowest tactic I have heard yet.

I have never been particularly impressed with Senators Christine Milne or Sarah Hanson-Young (both greens), but today I surprisingly was.  I heard Senator Milne talk about the carbon tax very eloquently, without appealing to emotional responses like I often hear her do.  She was very different to how I’ve seen her in the media.  Generally speaking I can’t stand Senator Hanson-Young.  I find her irritating, arrogant and hyperbolic.  But today I saw her speak on marriage equality and I was impressed with her level headedness and logic.  For a change I didn’t find her pushy at all.

(This is the view of the triangular roof between the houses from the rooftop) The security guards now know who I am.  I think that’s a bad thing…  A few of them are surprised that I keep coming back every day.  I am becoming infamous.

Back to the issues.  I also heard some interesting debate on Israel/Palestine this morning in the senate.  Basically it was about Australian groups talking about the issue, and  addressing concerns about the racism associated with it.  Fascinating stuff.

One of the things I have noticed is that there is at all times, at least one member of the press in the press gallery of both houses at all times.  I really like this.  It ensures transparency.  And the fact that all proceeding are available to the public to physically visit at all times.  The Hansard (public record) process ensures this too.  Every 7 and a half minutes the transcribers swap over to record all of the proceedings that then gets posted on the web so that everyone can access everything said in parliament.  I like this.  It is also broadcast over the radio for anyone wanting to tune in.

There have been lots of detailed points debated over the last few days.  I understand most of it, but unfortunately some of it is going over my head.  Partly because of the terminology being used, and also partly due to the fact that it is ongoing debate and I have not seen the earlier parts of the debate so I only understand the latest additions.  This is frustrating at times.  Particularly regarding the carbon tax.  Although I feel I am getting a good handle on it.

I have been particularly annoyed with question time.  Once question time kicks in, MP’s go from being rather polite, to childish idiots.  Some of our MP’s seems to lack the ability to speak with reason and politeness all of the time (although they are in the minority), but even the ones who are usually eloquent and articulate turn into babbling accusers by question time.  I mention in particular Wayne Swan.  Rather nice when qt isn’t on, but turns into a juvenile monster when it is!  There are thankfully a few exceptions to this.

I am increasingly impressed with our speaker Harry Jenkins.  He puts up with a lot of rubbish from the MP’s and I wouldn’t have the patience he does.  Today he spoke my mind.  He went a bit nuts actually.  In a good way.  He did some serious yelling, but it was all legitimate.  He spent a while at the start of qt telling the MP’s that their behaviour was unacceptable and that the people watching them see them in less than a positive light.  He told them to stop attacking each other and actually do some question and answer stuff instead of using questions as an excuse to squeeze in insults and debate.  Well said Harry!  He really did say a lot of what I have been feeling.  I can’t imagine the frustration he feels having to put up with this as a job.

I also like the fact that every MP has to bow to the speaker (HoR)/president (senate) as they enter the chamber, and before leaving the chamber.  It’s very polite and proper and I enjoy it.  Although I have noticed that not everyone does this…  Most do though.

I had so much more to say but I have lost my notes!  Not happy!!!  I wrote down lots of good/funny quotes and had other things to take about.  Gah!  Oh well, day 4 is still to come.

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5 Replies to “Day Three – Canberra”

  1. Point of order – people do not bow to the Speaker of the Reps nor the President of the Senate but rather the Coat of Arms immediately above them.

    The Coat of Arms sits above the chambers of all Houses in the Parliaments of Australia and above all judges and magistrates in Law Courts.
    People upon entering any of these chambers are in fact bowing to the Coat of Arms, in respect for the laws of the land, the courts the judiciary and ultimately the Crown for whom all of them stand.

  2. Enjoying your observations of our elected ‘whatevers’, you can hardly call them leaders. It’s because of their atrocious behaviour at question time that I can’t bear to watch them on TV. When you don’t have a lot of respect for them already, I find it doesn’t pay to view their kindergarten sandpit antics and become completely and utterly disillusioned.

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