Deploring spin doctors. Once upon a time, many, many years ago, MPs used to stand up and ask a question about something that interested or concerned them. Sometimes ministers did not even know what was coming, even if the questioner was from their own political side. Alas, that kind of real interrogation has vanished from Canberra life. These days government backbenchers are told what to ask so a minister can carefully give the prepared answer. On the other side of the house a few frontbenchers monopolise the questioning aiming to get a short grab of their words on television rather than provoking a meaningful response.

This silly game of charades has developed further to the point where the party apparatchiks send out each morning's catch phrases to be emailed, tweeted and uttered by all and sundry. Members of Parliament are now little more than robot drones to be manipulated by their spinners.