Thursday, 28 November 2013

Peter Van Onselen gives his opinion of Speaker Bronwyn Bishop


The Advertiser online 23 November 2013:

THE first fortnight of parliamentary sittings has proven one thing: Bronwyn Bishop is going to be a hopeless Speaker.
Not, of course, if you are a partisan who happens to enjoy the Coalition winning the day in Question Time, for Bishop ensures that happens on an all-too-regular basis.
She is hopeless for anyone who thinks a Speaker operating with even just a modicum of independence is good for our parliamentary process.
Every day of Question Time over the past two weeks she showed her partisan stripes. She was condescending to the Opposition, to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and, particularly, to manager of Opposition business Tony Burke.
She let the manager of government business, Christopher Pyne, get away with behaviour even Prime Minister Tony Abbott thinks is unparliamentary when Pyne called Shorten "electricity Bill".
Bishop has only just started in the role, so the many slip-ups forgetting members' electorates and basic procedures can be forgiven. But the overtly partisan style she has adopted is unlikely to change.
In fact, it will probably harden as the political contest becomes tighter, once the Coalition starts making unpopular decisions.
I didn't have much time for the performances of her predecessors Harry Jenkins or Anna Burke during Labor's time in power but at least they tried to develop non-partisan approaches to rulings.
If one good thing came out of the minority Parliament that was it. Bishop can't even keep her snide remarks out of her partisan interventions. She has reverted to the well-worn precedent in this country (as opposed to in the UK, for example) of the Speaker simply being an extension of the government - a hack who might as well be sitting on the benches behind the Prime Minister.
If there is one shining light in Bishop's woeful performance as Speaker this past fortnight, it is that she is doing her relatively insignificant job rather than being a member of Abbott's cabinet.

1 comment:

John Fraser said...

Bishop (the elder) is an embarrassment to senior workers.

And Bishop (the younger) is an embarrassment to all Australians.

Both Bishops are an embarrassment to the Australian parliament.