Senator BOB BROWN — Once again, the Greens do not endorse the notion that question time should be set aside because of the bushfire crisis. In fact, it is our belief that, when there are times of great national tragedy or other matters of great national moment, question time is all the more relevant. I think there is a concern that there could be some untoward behaviour during question time which would reflect on the chamber at this time of national tragedy. That is a matter for senators to properly address themselves on. We believe question time should proceed …

And we believe that Senator Bob Brown is absolutely, dead right. More than that, the fact that both houses of the Australian Parliament have found it necessary to set aside Question Time at this moment of national urgency, disaster and despair is as stinging a condemnation as you could imagine of their routine conduct. It is a sure sign that the pursuit of pure political advantage, rather than the broad public benefit, is the routine and sole focus of our elected representatives in their Parliamentary deliberations.

Why could they not behave themselves in Question Time and address the real issues raised by the current difficulties? Why would this not be the perfect forum? That they cannot meet without descending into point scoring and petty abuse is to their shame. It is a disgrace. And proves pretty much conclusively that Question Time has only marginal benefit to the effective administration of the nation.

Peter Fray

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