19 November 2021

Do we really have a 'lazy leftie government'? One expert is inclined to disagree

| Lottie Twyford
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Jeremy Hanson

Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson accused the government of laziness in last week’s Assembly. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The Opposition has accused the ACT Government of being a group of “lazy lefties” who want to “knock off… so they can get away on holiday”.

It was Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson who levelled the charges last week, during the middle of a debate on how many days the Legislative Assembly should sit for next year.

Mr Hanson said next year’s sitting calendar – which will see the Assembly sit for 35 days across 12 weeks – was too short.

But political and marketing expert at the ANU Dr Andrew Hughes isn’t so sure that fewer sitting days make the government “lazy”, nor does he think more sitting days equate to better government operations.

“How the days are used is equally important and, sure, sitting days are important to show people how democracy works, but I think weeks like budget estimates hearings are more important,” Dr Hughes said.

Estimates hearings allow officials and ministers to be scrutinised and questioned by members of parliament.

“It’s also becoming clearer that a lot of the heavy lifting is being done in committees which take up the time of MLAs and I’ve noticed much more engagement is happening online, rather than requiring question time in the chamber,” Dr Hughes noted.

flag poles

How long should our local assembly really sit for? Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Given the small size of the ACT’s Legislative Assembly, Dr Hughes said politicians were already overworked – each with portfolios to cover, as well as dealing with their own electorate.

The Hare Clark system, he said, was designed to keep every MLA accountable as there are no safe seats. This equates to politicians being expected to front up and spend time in their own communities alongside other duties.

“There is a real sense that we need more members of parliament as the city grows,” he said. “Compared to other states and territories, we might need to up it a bit.”

Dr Hughes noted the ACT’s population will surpass half a million people in only a few years and said a shake-up of the electorates could become necessary as areas like Molonglo continue to diversify.

He said another factor, perhaps unique to the ACT, is that the current government has held power for so long, a lot of people have lost faith in how the Legislative Assembly works.

“People begin to question how it works and whether anything actually changes,” he said.

Instead, he thinks questions would be better asked on how the operations of parliament itself could be reformed to make them more effective and more transparent.

“We want to know how ministers can be better held to account.”

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The last sitting day before the summer recess this year will be Thursday 2 December. Assembly will resume on Tuesday 8 February.

Mr Hanson was deeply critical of this long summer break, accusing some politicians of wanting to spend the two-month period at their coast houses.

Again, however, Dr Hughes wasn’t sure this was quite reflective of the entire situation.

“Doesn’t half of Canberra go on holiday for this time of year anyway? You’re entitled to have holidays, and you probably want members of parliament to have holidays given the complexity of the issues they face daily,” Dr Hughes said.

He’s also pretty certain the majority of politicians will be taking some of the lengthy documents they are required to read and understand with them, even if they are at the coast over summer.

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Wanting more diversity in parliament, according to Dr Hughes, also means wanting people who have families and want time off to spend with them.

He noted politics is the kind of job where you use your brain constantly, and one that requires support and sacrifice on behalf of family and friends in order to succeed.

“Many now think parliament should be a nine to five job rather than an all-day every day one where you give back and give back until you go under,” Dr Hughes said.

“I don’t think that’s healthy and I think the Canberra Liberals may have gone too far with this messaging.

“We need both an effective government and an opposition, not with either side pushed to breaking.”

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The ACT government is maliciously evil. Wish they were just lazy lefties.

The lazy Zed run Canberra Whinge Party rolls out of bed to call the other mob lazy, hilarious.

Well at least they are actually focussed on more than propping up deadweight hard right losers.

The Canberra Liberals are a failed party.

And Hanson is now just a bitter full time whinger. No ideas, lives in the past, as do all the Canberra Liberals.

They will never change.

Politician makes comment on opposing party, local man disagrees.

More to come…

HiddenDragon9:00 pm 21 Nov 21

When they’re not sitting, they’re not legislating to regulate/ban/tax things – so it’s not all bad news.

Not sure a further increase in the size of the Assembly would produce anything other than more of the same – i.e. generally indifferent (at best) delivery of the core local and state level responsibilities of the ACT government and lots of busy work in pursuit of the paint-by-numbers progressive/left agenda which is imported from inter-state and overseas and then dressed up as if it’s leading the world.

The real issue is not the number of potential ministers, but the inevitably narrow bandwidth of a small government system, and the apparent inability of the people running it to recognize the resultant limitations and set realistic priorities accordingly.

Hanson is spot on. This government is lazy, devoid of ideas, beholden to the Greens (their bedtime buddies) and generally incompetent. The chief minister seems bored with his job, but likes the pay grade. Most of the ministers are out of their depth (Mick Gentlemen in particular – in the planning portfolio) and have little or no ideas as to how to progress this great town. Canberra deserves better but sadly is a leftist population.

If the Liberals actually chose candidates who showed they are at least vaguely competent and worth electing, they might stand some chance of forming government. Labor are ok, but no better than bog average, but they look brilliant compared to the dross the Liberals have served up year after year.

Ian,
No pretty sure they all look woeful.

Although it’s actually your attitude thinking that Labor are “OK”, despite now decades of incompetence that leaves us with the woeful government we have.

We’d be better off electing a t#$d sandwich just for something different and to make the local ALP come back somewhere near reality.

Can you honestly suggest the Canberra Liberals are electable? The Old Testament was swell and all but the world has kinda moved on.

I’m not sure that everyone will be on the same page as Dr Hughes?

“The Hare Clark system, he said, was designed to keep every MLA accountable as there are no safe seats”. Mostly, the seats go 3:2, 2:3 or something like that. It’s really only one seat per electorate that is at risk. I would argue that some are only elected, because of Hare Clark.

“There is a real sense that we need more members of parliament as the city grows.”
Seriously, we have only recently increased the Assembly from 17 to 25.

“Many now think parliament should be a nine to five job…..”
Well, I guess we’ll need more politicians if they start doing a nine to five job. Maybe they could job share, that type of stuff. Some extra pollies to work the night shift, do the press interviews for the evening news, after the rest have caught the 5.01pm light rail to the inner north and Gungahlin.

Enjoy your summer holidays.

Just lazy, with parliamentary members content with shining seats with the girth of their rear ends

Pots, kettles and glass houses Jeremy!. This isn’t the most unsavoury comment I have heard from Jeremy over the years but when Labor and the Greens make a minor but true accusation that the Canb Libs and its leader are dominated and controlled by Zed Seselja they are called racists. The Canberra Libs have now been in opposition for 21 years! This former leader has been getting increasingly bitter with each loss! The party has been described by former Liberal leader and Senator Gary Humphries as being locked in a “crippling and paralysing” conservatism, out of touch, unable to control its finances and dominated by its far right. With a dwindling membership and a bunch of right wing zealots coming up through the ranks, I think the party’s over Jeremy!

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