PARLIAMENTARY BEHAVIOUR: Where was the back-up for Bridget Archer?

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

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Bridget Archer crosses the floor of Parliament to vote against the government and is summoned to a meeting with the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Women. She needs to take a recorder with her, place it on the table and switch it on. If asked to turn it off she needs to say: ‘You have the Treasurer and the Minister for Women to support you. I have either the recorder or I will fetch my solicitor to support me.’ If the Prime Minister replies that she has the Minister for Women to support her, she needs to tell him that if she is here to support me then there is no need for me to be here.
Colin Walker, Heidelberg

This is not how a democracy works
Bouquets to Julia Banks for shedding welcome light on the insidious practice of ″⁣workplace coercive control″⁣ favoured by politicians (″⁣Archer’s experience uncannily familiar″⁣, Comment, 28/11). Most of us will be all too familiar with it in our own workplaces under its more common name: bullying. All it needs is a power imbalance for the bullies to become corrupted by their power, such that any challenge is perceived as a threat and causes an overreaction.
Whether it’s the threat of exposure, or vying for positions as in a looming election, the results are predictably similar. When exposed, the perpetrators use their power to aim for the moral high ground, leaving the victims feeling manipulated, demoralised and ultimately powerless. How often are we told that all’s well, the bullies’ behaviour is perfectly acceptable because it’s within the rules?
Of course, those in power make the rules too. As we move into election mode, it’s worth realising that this is not fair or equitable and it’s certainly not the way a democracy should operate.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

However it’s said, it’s still workplace bullying
The treatment of Bridget Archer following her crossing the floor, was nothing short of workplace bullying.
As if that were not bad enough, our intelligence was then insulted by suggestions the appalling behaviour was motivated by concern for Ms Archer’s well-being. Heaven help us.
Glenda McNaught, East Melbourne

Where is the consent in the House?
Bridget Archer crosses the floor in Parliament. She is instructed to go to the PM’s office, but says no. Her ″⁣friend″⁣ Josh Frydenberg asks her to his office, but instead takes her to the PM’s office anyway. Is consent understood anywhere in Parliament House?
Eva Colin, Middle Park

An example of a not-proper workplace
Thank you, Julia Banks, for saying what many of us know and what Bridget Archer probably feels too intimidated to say. Anyone who has worked in a proper organisation knows you never call, nor go to, a possible disciplinary meeting between boss and subordinate without the subordinate being supported by an advocate of their choosing. We all know that Parliament is not a proper workplace and this is a glaring example.
Kath McKay, Bayswater North

The evaporation of trust
I remember as a young man being enthralled by the mystery and majesty of Parliament and how it ran. I recall the deep respect and trust that the community seemed more than happy to bestow on their elected representatives and how they behaved. They don’t do that now. With each whiff of pork-barrelling, corruption, secrecy and lack of accountability from this government, the trust and respect we used to have has simply evaporated. Whether this matters any more in how we vote in the next federal election speaks volumes about what is important to us these days. I certainly value integrity, trust, transparency and honour from my politicians. The independent candidates seem like the way to go.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris


Let’s get on with it
Maybe it is because Omicron is threatening to scupper our daughter’s visit at Christmas (she lives in the US), when we haven’t been able to see her in person for more than two years, or perhaps it is simply that I am isolating at home waiting for the result of my COVID test so that I can go back to work, having received an email over the weekend advising that somebody in our office tested positive last week.
But, if I am anything to go by, any reasonable person would have to say that it is about time we brought this to a close.
We can’t allow politicians and epidemiologists to go on tilting at windmills every time there is a new variant. We can’t continue slamming the borders shut every time somebody sneezes. It is no good for the economy, it is no good for life. It was the right thing to do last year and earlier this year, but we all have to learn to live with COVID – really live.
We’ve all been vaccinated (well, those of us who aren’t unlucky enough not to be able to receive a vaccine or stupid enough to choose not to), we are all being reasonably cautious (masks on public transport etc).
Let’s get on with life. Let’s open up and keep things open. Let’s lead a normal life. We live with influenza without missing a beat. Sure, we will see COVID infections rise. We shouldn’t be afraid of it.
We’ve done the hard work; we’re +90 per cent vaccinated in most states (among the highest vaccination rates in the world). Let’s now take a good, hard look at how we are now managing this and get on with life.
Jonathan Sanders, Glen Iris

Fixed terms please
Please will the next sane government in this country do what is required to fix the date for federal elections. The amount of futile, and often corrupt, waste of money and time when our representatives should be working for us – not themselves – is ludicrous.
Christopher Monie,

Political lessons
Your correspondent (Letters, 30/11) suggests that Matthew Guy “No lockdowns on my watch”, should look to John Howard “No GST on my watch” for a lesson on what promises not to make. I would suggest the opposite, remembering that John Howard did introduce a GST and went on to become the longest serving PM since Robert Menzies. The lesson? Say what you need to say, at the time, to get yourself elected.
Julian Guy, Mt Eliza

Blades in their wings
So, the Golden Plains Wind Farm plan for 215 turbines has been approved and the neighbours living within two kilometres will receive $1000 annually per turbine. Those lucky people must feel as if they’ve won the lottery. Not so lucky are the native brolgas, wedgetail eagles, bats, owls and other birds that will fly into the massive blades atop the 230-metre tall megaliths. Did the data modelling calculate how many birds which now soar majestically over Golden Plains will die a painful and mangled death? How many dollars per bird does that equate to?
Michael Doyle, Ashburton

Long road ahead
It seems many of us have been reading about and commenting on the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, and the possibility of a federal version of an ICAC, a voter integrity bill, and lately even the possibility of rules forcing social media companies to maintain and if necessary reveal the details of commentators should someone take offence to a comment.
Seems we were all wasting our time, as there are now fewer than a dozen sitting days left until the election must be called – and a good few of them will be reserved for the budget and its reply, so no time left to introduce any new legislation.
This is appalling, and one can only assume that this is a result of the Prime Minister losing control of the Parliament – in short, he’s shutting down review and scrutiny of his government. Seems we have a government not interested in governing, and a Prime Minister whose only interest is the job itself. Now instead of policy and debate we’re going to be subjected to a six-month publicly funded election campaign while Morrison stalks the country like some caricature of the quintessential Aussie dad asking us to forget the myriad scandals and stuff-ups and to remember the minuscule (to none) achievements of this tired pointless government.
Matthew McRobbie, Mont Albert

On being equal
I’m against discrimination against any sect of people according to their beliefs as judgment of beliefs is in Allah’s hands and it’s time is set in the hereafter. In this life we are meant to live together and accept one another regardless of our different beliefs. Nothing should affect anyone’s chances to get employed apart from their qualifications and abilities to provide the required service.
Ibtihalat Mohamed,
West End, Queensland

Controlling the message
Didn’t the Prime Minister announce a crackdown on on-line trolls just before the last election in 2019? Did he do something about it or just save the announcement for recycling?
Robin Lohrey,
Howrah, Tasmania

Attune to the times
Australia has long been home to some of the finest political cartoonists to work in the English language. But I don’t think there has ever been a more brilliant exponent of this art than Cathy Wilcox; her cartoon (30/11) is just the latest example. This year, as she has hit her mark again and again, I have come to anticipate her work as I open The Age every day.
I have begun to feel like those cricket fans of yesteryear in the outer, as their champion ran up to the crease to deliver his next blistering yorker. But my chant is not Lilleeeee, it’s ″⁣Wilcoooox″⁣!
Nick Eckstein, Kangaroo Ground

Bags of money
CCTV footage shows a suspected criminal syndicate picking up bags of cash before heading off into a (pokies) club (The Age, 30/11). Perhaps a condition of entry should be that all bags will be searched as this is something patrons now accept at many venues. However, this would of course result in a loss of revenue.
Peter Williams, Alphington

Manic state of affairs
Once again, Peter Dutton’s beating of the war drums shows his ignorance of foreign affairs, but to suggest that China, after retaking Taiwan, could move to invade us, is not only absurd but borders on the manic.
Barry Buskens, Beaumaris

Low priorities
There must be votes in nailing internet trolls. The Commonwealth proposes funding community legal services to take action against trolls for defamation. It is targeting a general community disillusionment with social media but in any scale of social priorities this cause must rank low.
The community legal services are grossly underfunded and under stress. These services are at coalface dealing with the huge increase in family violence workload over recent years. Community legal services are grossly underfunded and an injection of Commonwealth money is a far higher community priority than pursuing trolls or, for that matter, electoral fripperies like suburban carparks.
John Osborne, Windsor

Diplomacy first
Every item of news concerning the government’s attitude to China over the past several months has been aggressive. And we need to ask, why?
We need China on our side probably more than we need the Americans – we are geographically linked and they have been a vital trading partner for many years. We need to use diplomacy and caution, look for possible avenues of common agreement, offer little tidbits of interest, and most importantly, leave it to the diplomats, not the politicians.
John Cummings, Anglesea

Levers of power
Every day we walk our two beagles past the Bentleigh Railway Station car park, which was enlarged considerably following the state government’s level crossing removal there. Rarely is it full.
Now, in what can only be described as ″⁣bully boy″⁣ tactics, the federal government has threatened future infrastructure funding for projects in Glen Eira Council, if they do not agree to build a new federally funded car park. The council, which did not apply for the funding, is reported to have declined the offer on the advice of independent consultants, who concluded that the proposed new car park was not needed and indeed would exacerbate congestion, not reduce it as claimed by the federal government.
If it looks and feels like an attempt at political leverage on behalf of Liberal sitting member Tim Wilson, who is under threat from independent candidate Zoe Daniels, then it most likely is.
Ron Townsend, McKinnon

Breakfast fare
Patricia Karvelas is to take over Radio National’s breakfast show. I’m sure she will give us something to chew on during the breakfast session.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Remember the teachers
Jessica Irvine (″⁣The economic case for lazy parenting″⁣, 30/11) might have found room to make the economic case for better pay for teachers, whose professionalism must now be apparent to all home schoolers.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

You made the didge sing.
And we heard you.
And lit up the stories with truth and humour and heart.
And we felt you.
And so you changed us, improved us.
Like all the best poets this world has known.
Lucky us.
Nina Wellington Iser, Hawthorn


Going by the way state and federal Coalition MPs have been cosying up to anti-vaxxers and “freedom” warriors, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Coalition promises an ″⁣unvaxxed discrimination bill″⁣ at the next election.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

I hope Omicron finally persuades the anti-vaxxers to be socially responsible.
Tony Danino, Wheelers Hill

″⁣Freedom″⁣ protesters test positive (The Age, 30/11). Don’t tell me we’re surprised.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

It gives me no comfort that ″⁣freedom″⁣ demonstrators got COVID-19 at the protest. Just exasperation.
John Hughes, Mentone

Bridget Archer. Democracy in action.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

With Christmas nearly upon us a present request if I may: Please Prime Minister promote Bridget Archer to the position of Minister for Women.
Wayne Stinson, Merimbula, NSW

Wouldn’t it be nice if the grand prix became relevant by going electric. No noise or petrol pollution with the bonus of the research and development benefiting all electric vehicles.
Ralph Frank, Malvern East

I’m confused. I’ve just turned on the news and there’s Scott Morrison telling us all to stay calm about Omicron. Wasn’t it just the other day he was telling us all how we were all tired of governments telling us what to do?
Barry Miller, Kyneton

The government has councils over a (pork) barrel.
Wendy Knight, Little River

Barbados has become a republic within the Commonwealth. A role model for Australia.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

I hope Novak Djokovic and his father stay put.
John Rawson, Mernda

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