Labor frontbencher requires finish to ‘aggressive’ query time

“Your intuition is to simply rise up and go away. It’s nearly like battle or flight,” she says. “I don’t really feel bothered by it now. I’m simply used to it and I believe that’s what occurs to all of us. However do we actually need our legislators to get used to that?”

The Home of Representatives’ process committee is currently running an inquiry into “how question time runs and how this could be improved”. Ideas to date embody shortening the hour-plus classes, ditching the staged “Dorothy Dixers”, banning cell phones and higher use of microphones to select up hecklers.


Ms O’Neil mentioned that whereas not all query occasions characteristic the acute stage of aggression,  she believes the arrange is so poisonous, extra basic change is required.

“I truthfully assume they need to scrap the entire thing and begin once more,” Labor’s innovation and expertise spokesperson mentioned. “In any regular work surroundings, folks would by no means deal with one another this manner.”

Ms O’Neil believes that other than being “tedious” and “embarrassing”, the extent of battle in query occasions makes it not possible for MPs to construct useful working relationships throughout Parliament.


“You have obtained folks standing up in query time and saying: ‘Labor does not care about little one abuse.’ After which I’m anticipated to enter a gathering and sit down and work collaboratively with the individual that mentioned that, it is simply not attainable,” she mentioned.

“Query time is driving this horrible division between politicians who in all probability have really fairly a bit in widespread.”



Ms O’Neil means that as an alternative of query time, ministers might be grilled about their portfolios by a smaller group of MPs each fortnight. It’s a idea explored in her 2015 ebook, Two Futures, co-written with Labor colleague Tim Watts.

Ms O’Neil acknowledges that she additionally heckles throughout query time, arguing it’s not possible to not.

“I simply go in there daily, it’s a part of my job. I don’t hurl insults at folks, however I’ve to make some noise,” she mentioned.