Westminster warring

Tuesday 23 June 2009 6:29 AM

In an ABC Lateline (22/6) debate on the so-called "Ute-gate" affair, Tony Abbott averred that

it's the job of the Opposition Leader to attack the Prime Minister based on credible evidence

Therein lies one feature of the Westminster parliamentary tradition which has not served us well, however well-intentioned its origins. If it's the "job" of the Opposition Leader to attack the Prime Minister, then presumably it's also the latter's "job" to fight back. Granted, our parliament has produced some colourful characters whose question time performances are entertaining. But a meeting of two collectives, one titled "the Opposition", face-to-face across a chamber is adversarial by nature, and has not by and large brought out the best in human character or discourse.

In consequence, Australians have witnessed a spectacle this past week which has portrayed neither side of Federal politics well. There are no discernible winners, and 21 million losers. And yet it stands in a "proud" tradition where heckling, jeering, insults and character assassination are a daily occurrence.

There are times when a one-party state doesn't seem such a bad idea afterall. This week has been one of them.