Dorothy Dix is Dead

By DeusExMacintosh

Speaker cleans up Australian Parliament

THE days of endless question time haranguing may be over following a landmark edict by Speaker Harry Jenkins ruling disparaging partisan remarks out of order in the federal parliament.

Mr Jenkins slapped down ministers today, ruling out formulaic “Dorothy Dix” questions which set the stage for gratuitous attacks on the opposition.

The change came after he was forced to rule out an opposition question contrasting Julia Gillard’s support for scandal-hit MP Craig Thomson with her criticism of High Court Chief Justice Robert French.

He initially said he was inclined to allow the question, based on past precedent, despite his misgivings over all questions that cast aspersions on members of the House.But Leader of the House Anthony Albanese argued the point, saying the question should be rejected because, among other reasons, it cast aspersions and inferences, was insulting and hypothetical.

Mr Jenkins ceded to Mr Albanese, but there was a sting in his ruling for a government. “Well, this is a big change in the game,” Mr Jenkins said.

“I’ve got to decide whether I rule out most of the questions from both sides. And I’m happy to do that if that is the wish of the House.

“I’ve tried for four years to get a sensible set of rules for question time, and if they want me to implement my version of the rules, I’m happy to.”

He then proceeded to rule out of order portions of questions to ministers by government MPs providing open-ended opportunities for attack…

Under the new standard, much of the party-political abuse in both questions and answers will now be out of order.

Under normal circumstances, a speaker might face removal by his or her own side for such a ruling. But any such move would be intensely dangerous in the current parliament for a government with a one-seat majority.

The Australian


  1. Posted September 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    You do wonder if Jenkins has been reading Iain Dale

  2. Adrien
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink


    Mr Jenkins slapped down ministers today, ruling out formulaic “Dorothy Dix” questions which set the stage for gratuitous attacks on the opposition.

    That might be what the ALP needs to regain its soul. I have a feeling the party is numerically dominated by people whose reason to live is to heap shit on someone and the Keating Question Time mode of rhetoric is basically summed up above.

    The Australian headline this morning: GILLARD’S PLAN TO REFORM THE LABOR PARTY.

  3. Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    This is a sad day for backbenchers. How will they get up the numbers for their press releases about Parliamentary activity now?

    It used to be that a backbencher got treated now and then to asking “Can the minister tell us why the government’s policy is jolly wonderful and why the opposition is a pack of pus-guzzling mongrels who would crook a rear leg on the Anzacs, vegemite and the baggy green if given the chance?”

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