House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Statements by Members

Parliamentary Conduct

1:46 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Everyone in this room today knows that the one thing that people outside this room dislike the most about us is the fighting, the shouting at question time, the point scoring, the emphasis on style—if you could call it that—over substance. When we focus on fighting each other, rather than helping Australians, we don't look good.

Was there a time when our politicians worked together and not against each other, a time when policy was decided by consensus across the aisle, when the friendships we share in this place were not hidden behind a veil of poor behaviour? This time existed 50 years ago. On Fridays after sitting weeks, Prime Minister Bob Menzies and the Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell would meet for lunch and discuss good policy—not politics.

Next week we'll have an opportunity to learn from this time as Heather Henderson, nee Menzies, and Mary Elizabeth Calwell, daughters of the two great men, will be returning to parliament for a conversation mediated by Michelle Grattan. We'll hear insights into their famous fathers, how they worked together and if there are any lessons we can apply to this 46th Parliament. I look forward to seeing you all there in the Main Committee Room from 5 to 6 pm on Monday evening.