‘Horror show’ blamed for women problem
THE "horror show" of Question Time is being blamed for the lack of respect which is deterring some women from political careers.
And the complaints from sitting female MPs could see the daily and noisy clashes in the House of Representatives tamed.
Women are just as likely as men to be reprimanded for unruliness by Speaker Tony Smith, who has made clear his frustration with bad behaviour.
But the shouting and insults have added to the reasons why women could see Parliament as an unattractive workplace.
"You all attend Question Time. You see the behaviour in Question Time," former foreign minister Julie Bishop said to reporters on Thursday.
"Would that be tolerated in any workplace?
"And despite the best efforts of the Speaker and the rules, the standing orders, we still see the name-calling and the shouting.
"Tell me another workplace where you could do that?"
This week was marked by torrid engagements during Question Time as new Prime Minister Scott Morrison was given a hot welcome by Labor. And ministers, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Attorney-General Christian Porter hit back ferociously.
Tempers are unlikely to fade next week when Labor is expected to attempt a no-confidence motion against Mr Dutton related to claims his childcare businesses breach s44 of the Constitution.
Not just potential female candidates are being put off. Voters also don't like the raucous exchanges, said independent member for Indi, Cathy McGowan.
"I think there's not a member of my community who comes to Parliament who thinks Question Time is anything other than a horror show," Ms McGowan told ABC radio on Thursday.
"So I think for many of my community who experience Question Time - and clearly it's only one hour of a 13-hour day - they don't like it.
"They don't like the disrespect, they don't like the yelling over each other.
"And … if that's the best we've got in the nation, what does it look like?
"And I think we could do a lot to pick up many of the things that the United Kingdom parliament does to make Question Time more respectful."
One possibility is for questions to be directed to the Speaker, rather than directly to a minister, to short circuit personal attacks.
This format would be along the lines of, "Mr Speaker, can the minister for X outline progress on …" The Speaker would then call on the appropriate minister.
This could limit direct confrontation.