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

Lottie Twyford 19 November 2021 36
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.


READ ALSO: ACT joins forces with South Australia, NSW to fight for climate action


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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36 Responses to Do we really have a ‘lazy leftie government’? One expert is inclined to disagree
Cameron Fischer Cameron Fischer 12:43 pm 22 Nov 21

And they ger paid for what??

TheSilver TheSilver 7:21 am 22 Nov 21

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

Sol Sol 7:08 am 22 Nov 21

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.

chewy14 chewy14 9:54 pm 21 Nov 21

Politician makes comment on opposing party, local man disagrees.

More to come…

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 9:00 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.

Ian_ M Ian_ M 6:21 pm 21 Nov 21

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.

    Ian Ian 10:31 pm 21 Nov 21

    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.

    chewy14 chewy14 12:05 am 22 Nov 21

    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.

    Sol Sol 7:10 am 22 Nov 21

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

Paul Leins Paul Leins 5:25 pm 21 Nov 21

Has Zed done a single day's work actually on the behalf of the people of the ACT?

kenbehrens kenbehrens 5:25 pm 21 Nov 21

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.

Futureproof Futureproof 4:02 pm 21 Nov 21

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

Kylie Tinnock Kylie Tinnock 3:18 pm 21 Nov 21

We have a lazy government regardless of if it’s the left or the right

Estelle Estelle 2:59 pm 21 Nov 21

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!

Vander Leal Vander Leal 1:50 pm 21 Nov 21

I must admit coming from overseas and experiencing only a left wing local government, I've seen a lot of right wing policies and style until I realised "oh, this is the left here.. Better stick to that than risk a right winged one"... 😅

Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 12:55 pm 21 Nov 21

I think we have a very progressive government that represents our views very well

    Anthony Chase Anthony Chase 6:04 am 22 Nov 21

    Elizabeth Ann Thurbon suggest you have a look at the shocking record of this lot on health funding. It is abysmal and cannot be defended. It sure what you mean by progressive. I'd say regressive.

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 10:07 pm 24 Nov 21

    Anthony, Health finding is comparatively almost the highest if not the highest of all the jurisdictions. It may not be used as effectively- but it’s blatantly untrue that health is under funded.

Henry Kivimaki Henry Kivimaki 12:30 pm 21 Nov 21

Ideologically and morally corrupted ..is more of an accurate description.

Mark Newman Mark Newman 12:21 pm 21 Nov 21

Most accurate description of ACT’s labor/greens

    Martyn Tweedie Martyn Tweedie 2:11 pm 21 Nov 21

    Mark Newman clearly didn't take the time to read the article. Lol.

    Mark Newman Mark Newman 2:16 pm 21 Nov 21

    Martyn Tweedie lazy lefties sounds pretty accurate

    Martyn Tweedie Martyn Tweedie 2:49 pm 21 Nov 21

    Despite the article suggesting otherwise and your lack of evidence to the contrary. OK.

    John Garvey John Garvey 8:23 am 22 Nov 21

    Martyn Tweedie as someone said above, the LNP have nothing, so they resort to name calling.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 9:03 pm 22 Nov 21

    Mark Newman if there was an opposition with a bit of noise, they may perform better.

Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 12:18 pm 21 Nov 21

oh my are we back to name calling... so much for working together during a time of need in this country... same ol same ol and it is still pathetic

    Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 1:37 pm 24 Nov 21

    Linda Stapleton The new leader is just a fresh coat of paint over the same old rotten wood that the ACT electorate has rejected time and again.

Anthony Chase Anthony Chase 11:54 am 21 Nov 21

Yes, this crew only look after their own cronies. We all should know who they are! Lazy? Of course they're lazy.

    Julian Sortland Julian Sortland 6:56 pm 21 Nov 21

    Anthony Chase Sounds like the Liberals to me.

    Anthony Chase Anthony Chase 7:38 pm 21 Nov 21

    Julian Sortland that won't cut it. The liberals haven't been in power for 20 years. Housing, planning, crime and health. All neglected. The facts are there for all to see.

Steve Ulr Steve Ulr 11:28 am 21 Nov 21

If you look at the work record of the far right federal government, i think you will find they have worked less days than any other govt before them

    Naris Suwanmuk Naris Suwanmuk 3:16 pm 21 Nov 21

    Steve Ulr Lol, if the federal government was actually far right, I (an Australian citizen of Asian background) wouldn’t be here in the first place and enjoy various freedoms as someone from a non-Australian/non-white background, and non-whites wouldn’t be continuing to immigrate here.

    And Elizabeth Lee MLA (of South Korean/East Asian background) wouldn’t be the leader of the Canberra Liberals if the party was far right.

    Kevin Gill Kevin Gill 5:15 pm 21 Nov 21

    Steve Ulr while the LNP Federal Govt is/May not be totally far right it is true that a growing number of extremely conservative LNP members have increasingly been preselected and subsequently elected to Parliament in so called Safe Seats. Many of their actions and statements are so far removed from the sentiments of the broadly centrist Australian voter, so as to earn the label as coming from the Looney Right. Problem is the remaining genuine Liberals on Government ranks don’t speak out against this creeping lunacy in fear of having their own preselections challenged.

    Julian Sortland Julian Sortland 6:54 pm 21 Nov 21

    Steve Ulr Have they actually passed any useful legislation? Julia Gillard's government certainly did.

    Henry Kivimaki Henry Kivimaki 7:00 pm 21 Nov 21

    Steve Ulr ... There is alot more going on the silly divisive left right ping pong. That's child's play.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 9:02 pm 22 Nov 21

    Henry Kivimaki such a profound statement. Please enlighten mean to its meaning.

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