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Will they ever learn?

By Ad astra  

Will they ever learn? After watching the first Question Time of the most recent sitting of the House of Representatives, the only plausible answer to that question is a resounding NO.

On April 2, parliament resumed after a brief recess to enable the Budget for the next year to be tabled, a necessary prelude to the PM calling an election.

It began with motions of condolence before getting down to the real business of parliament, the unseemly brawling that characterises our federal politics day after distressing day.

It was heartening though to experience what our politicians are capable of being. Their condolence speeches were well-written and sincerely and stylishly delivered by the PM and the Opposition Leader. They acknowledged the tragedy of the Christchurch massacre, the death of Dr John Herron, surgeon and longtime Liberal Senator, whose humanitarian work in war-ravaged Rwanda is legend, and the death of Les Carlyon, accomplished war historian and sports commentator. It was a professional exhibition of good manners, courtesy and collaboration across the aisle. It was warming, albeit surprising to see our politicians acting with mutual consideration, each acknowledging the fine words of the other. As a long time detractor of the political class, I asked myself why could it not be like this always. Could courtesy become the norm?

Faint hope.

No sooner had the pleasantries finished and the condolence motions formally referred to the Federation Chamber for further consideration, than Chris Bowen asked the first of the ‘Questions without Notice’. Regrettably, it was an angry question aggressively directed to PM Morrison. Entirely predictably, it evoked the ill-tempered, archetypical response from the always-ready-to-scrap Morrison. Shouting from lips quivering with rage, he assailed his opponents with a torrent of angry words. Good manners were abandoned. The brawling resumed. It will continue unabated until the House assembles again after the election.

Why do politicians behave this way? We know that aggressive behaviour is not confined to males. Listen on Fridays to Jon Faine’s The Wrap on ABC Melbourne Radio, a weekly summation of federal politics. There you will hear his panel of women screeching at one another. Reflect on Michaelia Cash’s raucous rant during Senate Estimates when she snarled at accusations of improper actions in her department and threatened retribution, and again recently when, addressing a cluster of tradies after Labor announced its electric car policy, she thunderously declared: ‘Labor is coming after your utes’, forcing you to drive electric vehicles.

Although we know that aggressiveness is not restricted to males, even male chauvinists would concede though that males have longstanding form on this sort of behaviour.

Is there an explanation? Having roundly criticised the behaviour of senior politicians during that appalling episode of Question Time, I ask myself: ‘Why is it so?’ Coincidentally, as I was writing this piece, there was an episode of the ABC’s The Drum titled ’Men’s Special’ hosted by John Barron, which featured a panel of experts who discussed the behaviour of men in great detail. The insights they provided revealed the thought processes of a variety of males, young and old alike: their fears, their apprehensions, their hopes, and their ambitions. Although the programme runs for an hour, it is well worth a view. It gives more insight than I ever could into why men behave the way they often do.

So I conclude this short piece with that episode from the ABC’s The Drum ’Men’s Special’. It speaks for itself, illustrating as it does the violent behaviour that men are capable of displaying. I rest my case. Click here then play the Men’s Special episode, which appears at the top of the page. You may not wish to play the whole of it; the first few minutes will give you the gist of it.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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5 comments

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  1. Terence

    I’m not sure that male behaviour (I worth while discussion for sure) is the problem. I believe that it is all about greed. Pure unadulterated, narcissistic greed.

    If you view politics through the lens of “What ever it takes” then everything you ask in this piece is a rhetorical question. The rise of the career politician has now created an environment where winning power for power sake is what its all about.

    Look at ATM – all were like the dog that chases the car, all three of them had NFI what to do with it when they finally caught it.

    Now if I ruled the Australia the first thing I would do would call a referendum and insert into the constitution the following section

    “Any person who is involved in the politic of Australia must act honestly and respectfully and must priorities and act in the best of all individual Australian citizens”

  2. Kaye Lee

    Power is part of the discussion about male aggression.

  3. Terence

    Hi Kaye

    I understand your point but there are men who seek power because their intentions are to do good with it and make things better.

    I tend to think the aggression is a symptom of greed rather than a cause. Again look through the lens of “What ever it takes” and so aggression is merely one of the tools employed to satisfy their greed.

    Yes with power, these muppets probably feel it’s their god given right to be aggressive but again they only do it to satisfy their greed. As I pointed out before, I don’t think that power is the number one end game for this current bunch (except maybe for The Spud), I think its all about the money and perks and what they can get out of it for themselves and their mates.

  4. 2353NM

    @Terence – the problem with this

    “Any person who is involved in the politic of Australia must act honestly and respectfully and must priorities and act in the best of all individual Australian citizens”

    is who’s prism do you view the ‘best’ (I assume you mean) interests or endeavours through. There are 25 million of us or thereabouts and I’m sure that Malcolm Robert’s description of ‘best interests’ is significantly different to what Larissa Waters would describe. Both of them would vary from Morrison’s, or mine, or yours as well I would suggest.

    You can’t moderate or legislate on ‘perceptions’ as everyone has a different view of acceptable.

  5. Terence

    2353NM

    It was a little bit of tongue in cheek but yes you are right. However even with this flawed addition to the constitution would be better than what the current crop are doing to the country. They even given up trying to pretend that they give a rats about everyday Australians. It’s all about themselves and their donor mates.

    I guess my point is that someone, preferably a new centralist party with no political baggage, needs to come in, have a RC into corruption, politics, media, lobbying, etc and then enshrine powers in the constitution to:

    Establish a anti corruption body with is answerable to the parliament and cannot be corrupted by political interference.
    Establish principles of no lying in the political discourse (this includes the media – bye bye Murdoch)
    Ban political donations; and
    Fix up the current oversight arrangements.

    How that is done, I’m not sure, there are smarter people out there than me but it must be able to be done.

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