Queensland Premier Campbell Newman demanded that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott put federal-state relations on the September election agenda, calling for a formal review and possible referendum to better define the powers and responsibilities of each level of government, last week criticising the overlapping roles of the commonwealth and states in education, health, workplace relations and the environment as inefficient, confusing and a waste of taxpayer money.

In a declaration of his government’s intention to pursue the model of competitive federalism, Mr Newman labeled COAG a “dysfunctional farce”, where premiers were pushed into adopting “lowest common-denominator” uniform laws and regulations through threats of losing commonwealth funding, despite the reforms often disadvantaging their own states.

Campbell Newman - Photo, couriermail.com.au

Campbell Newman – Photo, couriermail.com.au

The Premier said both sides of politics in Canberra had been silent on the need for reform of federal-state relations, but that it was now time for the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader to make clear statements on how to “reform the relationship and make it work” and that “the way the nation is working today is far removed from what the drafters of the Constitution envisaged over a century ago,” he said.

“It is the people of Australia who are paying, because they are paying for overlapping bureaucracies and the constant fights, the argy-bargy between the two levels of government and that the focus should be on the true matters of the nation, external relationships and defense, and that on other matters, they should be leaving the states to do what they do, funding them for it and allowing competition between states,” he said.

Mr Newman said the political fighting was typical of the “carrot and stick” approach to federal-state relations. Both sides of politics in Canberra used funding to override the states in areas that had been traditionally under their power.

“There has been a constant chopping away at the authority and powers of the state,” the Premier said.

“I am not blaming one side of politics for the situation we are in and I am not taking sides as to who is best placed to sort it out. But I have heard nothing from either side of federal politics in terms of their vision for this.”

“There needs to be that commitment to reform at the highest possible level.”

Now I totally agree with Mr Newman and funnily enough what he is describing is the very same thing the government does to Aboriginal and Islander (including the Torres Strait) people when it comes to self-determination principles and allowing us to manage our own affairs, but I would like to take it down another notch and look at how our politicians fare in the everyday ‘respect’ and ‘communication’ stakes.

It seems clear that federal and state governments are finding healthy communication all too elusive and to be honest the types of behaviours I have been witnessing played out in the media and on the television of late from our politicians is nothing short of pure Lateral Violence.

Let us take a look at some of the banter that took place in Question time this month, whilst I have only included a miniscule amount of the absolute garbage that comes out of the mouths of the people we pay good money to run this country, I do wonder what would happen if they spent half the amount of time they spend pulling one another down and talking about sport and other such non-life threatening issues to focused on something real, just how much better off all our nations would be in this country?

These quotes are a clear indication to me that our Politicians are somewhat unable to show each other respect and any level of common decency – and again I am left wondering how we can ever expect the heads of States, the Departments, the Agencies, Government staff and then the wider mainstream population to NOT follow suit?

Monkey see, monkey do?

Taken directly from Hansard:

MS GALLAGHER: “Have you got nothing better to do, Mr Hanson? Seriously, the final sitting day of an Assembly period and you are worried about this? Really? You are really worried about it?

I would draw your attention to the parliamentary agreement signed between Shane Rattenbury and myself back in November which consigned you guys to four more long years on the opposition benches. And it still hurts, doesn’t it? It still hurts. It hurts so much that Mr Seselja has had to put his slippers on, sign his thankyou cards and get out of that door—at a time of his choosing, not yours, Mr Hanson, which we have all noticed.”

“Dr Bourke: There is so much noise coming from over there that I cannot hear what the Chief Minister is saying. Would you do something about it?” 

Opposition members interjecting— 

MADAM SPEAKER: “Could you stop the clock, please? Order, members! Mr Hanson, I have called you to order on a number of occasions. Chief Minister, I will ask you to comply with the standing orders and address the chair and not debate with the opposition. It is unparliamentary. Dr Bourke is right. It is impossible to hear what is going on in here. Have you got an answer to the question?

We are only on Page 2 of the April 11 transcript and not much respect or healthy communication filtering through the television out into mainstream land yet!

MR SMYTH: “Chris, you did not miss much. She did not endorse you, mate. Chief Minister, is it not true you cannot appoint another minister because no-one on your existing backbench is up to the job of being a minister?”

MS GALLAGHER: “This line of questioning is contemptuous really of the Assembly’s time—and to be having that from a man who is moving the wrong way down the front bench, frankly. What have we seen from Mr Smyth? We have seen him as leader. We have seen a number of election losses. We have seen him as deputy leader. Now I do not believe you are even a committee chair, are you? That is how valued you are on your side.”

MS GALLAGHER: “That is what you are going to get back. That is what Mr Smyth will get back if he uses question time to be as disrespectful as he is. You will get it back, and you will get it back in spades. 

Mr Hanson can only dream of a backbench like mine that have stayed committed to their constituents. You dream, Mr Hanson, of a backbench like mine. Look around. Look at your own.

Into a discussion on line marking of sports fields….”

MADAM SPEAKER: “Sorry, I know where you are going, Dr Bourke. Mr Coe, sorry, that is being quite disruptive. I cannot hear Minister Burch. If you want to talk about Mr Barr’s birthday you can do that some other place.  

Mr Coe: In Lismore, perhaps.” 

MADAM SPEAKER: “And we will not be having any more “dissing” of Lismore.” 

Mr Coe: “Madam Speaker, I was hoping you would actually take a point of order earlier as to your recollections of Lismore in the 70s.” 

MADAM SPEAKER: “That is highly disorderly, Mr Coe, as, too, would have been my interjecting on the subject. Ms Burch has the floor. Sorry, I should have stopped the clock.”

MR GENTLEMAN: “Minister, can you tell us how ACT industry has responded to the introduction of the red tape reduction panel?” 

Mr Hanson: “I bet they love it!” 

MR BARR: “It has been very positive, in spite of the cynical observations of those opposite. The Canberra Business Council, the chamber of commerce and the small business associations, COSBOA, who are all represented on the task force, are very supportive of the reform process. ClubsACT have written to the government seeking to be involved.”  

Mr Coe: “I’m glad Jeff’s on board!” 

MR BARR: “I am very pleased that we will be able to begin some particular work with the clubs sector. Again, I am surprised at the level of cynicism and narky interjections coming from those opposite, and particularly in relation to the clubs sector. It is interesting that it takes this issue to get the other mob motivated today. Nonetheless—“ 

Mr Coe: “The Labor Party talking about red tape is comical.” 

MR BARR: “Madam Speaker, it is of course important that those opposite are entertained at some point in question time and I am happy to continue talking whilst they interject. I thank you so much for any involvement from yourself in relation to the series of interjections that I have just had to endure.” 

Mr Seselja: “On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I think there is an imputation against the chair there from Mr Barr. If he has a point of order, he should raise it, rather than making snide asides when he is speaking, thanking you for your assistance. So I might ask you to call him to order.”

MS GALLAGHER: “Mr Hanson, you did copy that part of our election commitment, too. I was just going to say that you did not, but you did, the day after we announced it. It was such a good idea: “Damn, Katy thought of it again, ahead of time.” 

MADAM SPEAKER: “Chief Minister, would you address your comments through the chair.”

Mr Hanson interjecting— 

MADAM SPEAKER: “Mr Hanson!” 

MS GALLAGHER: “Sorry, I should not respond to the constant interjections, Madam Speaker.” 

MADAM SPEAKER: “Actually, there have not been constant interjections.” 

MS GALLAGHER: “There have been.” 

MADAM SPEAKER: “There have not been constant interjections, and you responded to the first one.”  

Mr Hanson interjecting— 

MADAM SPEAKER: “Mr Hanson, could you cease interjecting, please.” 

MS GALLAGHER: “Madam Speaker, I did not respond to the first one and they had been constant in relation to that part of the question. I do try not to respond to interjections. 

The dedicated paediatric area within the emergency department is an important part of the redevelopment of the emergency department. Ideally, we would like to see this work progress as soon as possible and we are currently discussing with the commonwealth opportunities to access the $5 million funding ahead of the time that was previously agreed.”

MR BARR: “Assembly comes from members from Molonglo. All seven of us I know are very passionate supporters of sport and recreation. I know the shadow minister, for example, is always out there talking positively about the fantastic outcomes that occur in our community for sport and recreation. We have the highest level of participation in sport and recreation in the country.” 

Mr Hanson interjecting— 

MR BARR: …”Despite the constant carping of the Leader of the Opposition, who appears to set himself aside now as the one member for Molonglo who is not supporting sport and recreation in his local community—and that is very disappointing,”

Mr Hanson; “it is a split between the Leader of the Opposition and the sport—“ 

Opposition members interjecting— 

MR BARR: “They could not be further apart on the opposition frontbench. The split is there for all to see this afternoon.”

This week Lateral Love Australia posted the following additional quote of the day:

“If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel envy . . .
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty …


If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . .
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves..
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If children live with recognition, they learn to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn to be generous.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .”

This quote comes from Dorothy Law Nolte’s book entitled ‘Children Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Values’ and it could not be a more pertinent quote, one that we can all do with reading. One commentator from Lateral Love posted “This is so very true, from my own experiences of life. It is only when we are older can we sometimes change what we have become to something better.”

Now I know I say this statement a lot, but it does not take a rocket scientist to see that our younger generations and especially the children in our pre-schools and daycare centers around the country, they are all learning a very different level of respect for one another and it is all based on similar principles to the ones stated above.

I find it a real shame and very disheartening that the human beings who find themselves in leadership roles in this country cannot step up to the plate and find the desire and the will to do the same.

It is not just children that are impacted by these negative laterally violent behaviours, many adults need to think and then rethink the way they interact with others.