Festival of Obvious Ideas #3: Slash Parliamentary terms
Welcome to the second day of the Punch Festival of Obvious Ideas, our salute to stuff that should be said. Here, we have a look at why we need to force some politicians to earlier elections - and no, it’s not about who you think.
Babies torn apart then pieced back together, or left on a shelf to die. A cover up of mass medication in the water, poisoning us all. Random drug tests for kids.
Welcome to the weird world of Upper House MLC Ann Bressington.
Ms Bressington, who only got 32 primary votes but surfed into the SA Parliament on the ever-popular Nick Xenophon’s coattails. Ms Bressington, who set out on an anti-drugs platform but quickly became a one-woman lightning rod for paranoid conspiracy theorists.
Ms Bressington, who turned on Mr Xenophon after she was installed in Parliament and questioned his integrity before calling him a political ‘chameleon’ – which, considering her ability to absorb the thought processes of fringe groups, seems a little odd.
Ms Bressington, the “accidental politician” who said back in 2007 (with seven years to go) that she hates being a politician; and yet she’s there on the taxpayer pay roll until her term expires in 2014.
If you need an argument to abolish lengthy upper house Parliamentary terms, look no further than Ms Bressington, who has done some excellent work on workers’ rights and child abuse that is greatly outweighed by her campaigns of fear-inspiring misinformation.
You’d call her a rogue politician if it didn’t have such an air of charming, anti-establishment, independent thinking.
Ms Bressington has aligned herself with many dubious causes, most notably the anti-fluoride mob, who believe the Government is putting “rat poison” in the water, lowering children’s IQs, causing ADHD, osteoporosis and cancer, and rotten teeth. They run parallel to the anti-vaccination movement; rejecting science, clinging desperately to one or two ‘experts’, and filling people’s heads with fear.
Her latest mission is to scare the crap out of whichever man, woman or child happens to open their letterbox to find one of 120,000 anti-abortion pamphlets featuring dead foetuses.
In the pamphlet, she writes:
The baby is given no anaesthetic prior to the abortionist inserting a clamp into the uterus, seizing a leg or other body part, and, with a twisting motion, tearing it from the baby’s body. This is repeated again and again. The spine must be snapped, and the skull crushed to remove them. The nurse’s job is to reassemble the body parts to be sure that all are removed.
Now, there’s a way to have a reasonable debate about decriminalising abortion.
The pamphlet is a Frankenstein of stitched together horrors. Ms Bressington has untethered statistics and quotes from their contexts and put them in the service of her agenda.
There are pictures of foetuses plucked from the web, graphic descriptions of medical procedures designed to shock, a horrid focus on botched abortions, a heavy reliance on one-off news stories, and an irresponsible mish mash of statistics.
The main thrust of the brochure is a straw man argument that people who are pro-choice somehow deny that foetuses are human.
Hell, she evens uses a quote from that pro-choice hack Tory Shepherd, and throws in a spelling mistake for good measure.
The upper houses of the nation’s Parliaments, because they rely on proportional representation, are often an eclectic mix of people representing minority interests.
One senior Labor MP colourfully compared the Upper House with “the bar scene from Star Wars”.
SA Premier Mike Rann is not alone in his wish to see the upper house abolished. That’s a bigger argument, and one tainted by the fact it often comes from disgruntled governments struggling to get their reforms through both houses.
Just reducing the length of an upper house term would be a simple reform that would not compromise its status as a house of review.
The arguments against shorter terms are that long terms encourage longer term thinking; more pragmatically, elections are also expensive.
And the best argument for shortening the terms?
Read all about it
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