The Australian Parliament really has not got any talent


This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail

So many stupid questions and too many stupid people, it’s Parliamentary Question Time!

I mean, it must be called ‘Question Time’ for a reason.

Really, at some point it’d be just wonderful if someone asked a question, and someone else attempted to answer it.

Instead it’s stupid people asking even dumber questions. Or misusing the format to accuse each other of bias and incompetence.

Which is a pointless exercise, as bias and incompetence is something of which every single excuse for a politician involved in that farce called question time is equally guilty.

Parliamentary Question time sits atop a structure built of so many idiocies that it makes a house of cards look both earthquake and tsunami proof.

According to people who were around back before television, there was a golden time when politicians actually answered the questions they were asked.

These days, however, it’s not remotely intelligent or constructive. Instead, it’s the worst scripted play in all of history, and there’s always another season, despite nobody ever asking for more.

Have you tried watching it lately? Give it a go. It’s horrendous.

One of two things always happens. A politician will ask a member of their party to talk about something they’ve done, and the reply will be some ultra-boring and pompous pre-prepared speech detailing why it’s all just soooooo amazing.

Option two then involves an opposition politician posing an accusation in the form of a question. Which will then be answered with a whole lot of counter accusations that are nothing to do with the original question.

In the background at all times are garbled insults emitting from adults acting like a playpen of toddlers with mouths full of marbles repeatedly shouting out the three words they know.

The only discernible purpose of the whole thing seems to be the never-ending competition to provide the one spiteful grab that makes it to the news that night. Some clever quip, big, bold and empty statement or a harsh clichéd critique that’s forgotten in twenty-four hours or less.

It’s a rabble of apparent professionals in designer clothes, behaving like they’re wearing tracksuits, and in a pub yelling at the horse-racing or a poker machine.

The behaviour exhibited by these humans that we call our elected leaders would not be tolerated at any business meeting, family Christmas dinner or even while arguing over the correct price for a lap dance.

So instead of continuing with this awful excuse for attention grabbing that plays out like some atrocious talent show, where competitors vie for the title of blackest soul, I’d like to make a simple suggestion.

Why not force the politicians to actually answer every question?

This would be easily achieved by instigating proper penalties for anyone who veers off topic, refuses to answer or launches a personal attack.

Now banishing them from the chamber doesn’t work. That’s just like sending a worker off early for their holiday break.

Instead, let’s start docking their pay.

Next, let’s pick a speaker who’s not even a politician but a trained arbitrator skilled in keeping debate on track, and is impartial. Any primary school teacher would be perfect.

Once we start hitting the politicians where it hurts, and have someone who knows what they’re doing actually running the show, let’s see how much longer all the stupidity lasts.

This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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