When a government has reached the end of its popular acceptance, one of two characteristics tend to afflict it: arrogance or incompetence. The Bligh administration in Queensland is a perfect illustration of the contention. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests many voters regard it as guilty of both sins.
The incompetence arises from the dearth of adequate infrastructure to retain Queensland’s once-admired quality-of-life reputation. Sure, we had to pay the price of being labelled a backward state because life was leisurely and laidback but, hey, we didn’t mind. It was only ever southerners and those on the brink of adulthood who raised serious objections to the quiet life. But we could get around the place easily and quickly, we had more than enough water, the hospitals were efficient, effective and FREE, our schoolchildren gained adequate literacy and numeracy standards and we were hailed across the nation as a low-tax state. Labor, in office for eighteen of the past twenty years, has nailed us to a cross on each of those criteria. Thanks, guys.
The arrogance arises from Labor’s denigration of the parliament. The latest slight to democratic tradition comes with statistics that demonstrate Labor’s intolerance of that most basic of accepted freedoms: the right of parliamentarians to speak on behalf of their constituents. In her 26 months of premiership, Anna Bligh has allowed MPs to be ‘gagged’ in the Legislative Assembly 16 times. This is a more than 50% increase over the man Labor likes to portray as a jackbooted dictator, Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He who, Labor loves to allege, rode roughshod over every parliamentary nicety was never so dismissive of basic entitlements.
The real arrogance of Labor comes courtesy of failed Minister and now Government Leader of the House, Judy Spence, who looked down her nose and declaimed that debate would not need to be shut down if only MPs would put more effort into their speeches. Snottily she said: ‘Most people (MPs) are repetitive and haven’t done a lot of research. It would be different if they did.’
Turning the knife in the ribs of democracy she further lambasted the Opposition on the basis that it could not stop its members from speaking on every piece of legislation and Queenslanders don’t expect their MPs to be sitting up late every night during parliamentary sittings contributing to dull debates.
Such hubris, dear girl! In fact, we pay you lot so bloody much that, yes, we DO expect some effort on our behalf and, given the paucity of actual sitting days, the overbearing burden of parliamentary service is infinitely less than a slap with a feather.
Ms Spence, such arrogance will quite possibly see you repenting at leisure as a ‘mere’ citizen after the next election. Perhaps then you will see the democratic right of your local MP being able to speak on your behalf as somewhat more important than you current derogatory view.