Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reforming Question Time

Liberal Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne has suggested a ‘backbench question time’ so that MPs can ask Ministers questions without notice, for example, about important issues in their electorates. The thing is, that’s exactly what we have right now. The problem is that neither Government nor Opposition Parties use it. They use Question Time to pursue their favoured political issue of the day.

Neither Government nor Opposition MPs are permitted to ask questions of their own. Christopher Pyne as Manager of Opposition Business has been one of the worst offenders.

In the last week of Parliament last year the Opposition asked the questions it was allocated –35 questions – about the Australian Workers Union in the mid 1990s when Julia Gillard worked for Slater and Gordon. Their questions concerned an issue which no constituent has ever expressed any interest to me about, and which is nearly twenty years old.

There are no doubt any number of issues which Opposition MPs could have raised and would have liked to have raised instead. Parliament would have been a much more genuinely representative voice of Australian voters if they had been raised.

Christopher Pyne doesn’t need to win an election to reform Question Time. If he is serious about reforming Question Time, it’s in his power already. He can start next week.

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