Pairing Pees & Queues For Members When In Parliamentary Chambers

Our lovely lady PM, Jules,
Has introduced some thoughtful rules
To help other ladies in the House
Necessitated by that louse,
Abbott, and his policy on pairs.
“And for the men?” you ask. Who cares!

It is easier, remember,
When you are, and have, a member!
If you’re male and want to pee
You can stand and handle it, but we,
Even without occasion to excrete,
Will always need a cubicle with seat.

You men will never have to queue
And then have someone hassle you
To hurry up, as they start to yell,
“They’re ringing the Division Bell!”
So now there’s an arrangement for
Lots of ‘Ladies’ near the Chamber door.

Sensitive to a need for clemency
In cases of late pregnancy,
After lobbying by Rob Oakeshott,
There’s provision too for a ‘Chamber pot.’
And even for another when it
Is needed sometimes in the Senate.

For that there is a bottom line.
It’s kept hidden from Christopher Pyne.
He’s always getting up to make a POO
So he’s been assigned a special loo.
The PM’s also promised to clear the air,
In his case, by always granting him a pair.

But after all that, foul mouthed Sophie
Handed government its finest trophy,
Making redundant the need for a pair,
And what was harder still for Abbott to bear,
A warm embrace of Gillard with Rudd.
That would’ve had him fuming, spitting blood!

The Opposition may have lost that wedge
But Tony still promises repeal with a blood signed pledge.

NOTES: These were written for Cafe Whispers . Tony Abbott has said he won’t be permitting any ‘pairings’ for absences from Parliament during this session, concerned as much of its business will be about the Carbon tax legislation. Members will have to have their wits about them even when in attendance in Chambers, taking care to be available for every division. Just one inadvertent absence could bring down the government If you want to understand the importance of “pairing’’ in a Westminster parliamentary democracy, with particular reference to Australia and to this years’s hung parliament, there is a nicely succinct article by Craig Mark at The Conversation, an excellent information and research blogsite backed by our major universities.

It shows how Tony Abbott’s destructive messing with parliamentary process has extended to pairing, a hitherto civilized convention between political parties. Government, whichever side is in power, always requires more pairings than the Opposition since it has so many official functions here and overseas requiring absences from Parliament, whether at ministerial level or simply of MPs on various and routine delegations.

So far this government has denied only one out of 27 requests from the Opposition for a pair. But it has had to request more than 180 pairs for ministers and others away from the house on government business, of which the Opposition has denied over sixty, ie. one third of all requests! In spite of this negative obstructiveness the government has still managed to get all of its legislation passed, but not without great inconvenience. Recently, in spite of there being an agreement to a pair during his time out for major surgery, Kevin Rudd, the Foreign Affairs Minister, was called back early into Parliament during votes related to the carbon tax. Similarly Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, who was scheduled to attend security talks in the US, was also denied a pair.

Tony Abbott has said he will be granting no pairs at all during this parliamentary session when the Carbon tax and other important legislation comes up, though one exception to that has already been made. He was dissuaded from being particularly hard nosed over granting a pair to Craig Thomson should his new baby appear on schedule. It is in fact due today, October 10th, but like many babies it may well take its time and arrive a few days late. Public reaction to Abbott’s smug pronouncement was such that he gave way. Zoe Thomson is now assured of her husband’s company during her labour whenever it begins and ends. Abbott’s small minded and unnecessarily hard line over pairing for Arts Minister, Simon Crean, to attend the funeral of national treasure, artist Margaret Olley, was particularly unpopular given that he at the same time also prevented her good friend, Malcolm Turnbull, from paying his last respects.

It will be interesting to see what other human crises intersect with political realities over the next few weeks, and just how ridiculously rigid our alternative Prime Minister might again show himself to be. Meantime I’ve enjoyed updating my “Ps & Qs for Members when in Chambers” which I wrote when Tony Abbott was so peeved with the Independents for not choosing him as Prime Minister that he first got nasty about pairs a year ago. Christopher Pyne, Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, seems to have enjoyed implementing this policy which makes life hard for the government. Anthony Albanese and Labor whips along with their cross bench supporters have done well to keep members disciplined and get all government legislation through. I can imagine there’s been a fair bit of leg crossing when divisions were imminent!

POST SCRIPTUM on October 12th, 2011. The Clean Energy legislation was passed and with a majority of two – pairs made irrelevant by by Sophie Mirabella’s bad behaviour resulting in her exclusion from the house before the final vote!


Sue, 10/10/11 How about this for a new title for Christopher pPyne? The Miss Manager of Opposition Business

patriciawa 10/10/11, Very apt, Sue!

jane 10/10/11, jane Sales of Depend underware have skyrocketed in Canberra according to supermarket managers and chemists. However, it seems that the government has cornered the market and the opposition has been pipped on the post.

Little Chrissy Whynne was heard whining like a peeved mincing poodle in an undergrounded utilities suburb after he’d done the rounds of the Depend outlets.

“You’ll have to lift your leg on Liealot’s chair!” one irritated store owner was heard to bellow after him as he minced off.

“Serve Liealot right for constantly fiddling with the stock and harassing my staff looking for photo opportunities,” the store owner added. “My female staff are fed up with that stinky lycra. And those bloody budgie smugglers! The women reckon it wouldn’t be so bad if he at least wore a singlet or a t shirt as well…….but just smugglers, eewww! They’re thinking of lodging a complaint about sexual harassment, just quietly.”

“And as for that mincer, Whynne,” the shopkeeper went on to say, “I hope he sprays that bugger Liealot when he gets caught short. He couldn’t smell any worse than when he comes in here with his treadly after another stunt! Surely someone could arrest them for behaving suspiciously around lamp posts!”

patriciawa 10/10/11, Thanks, jane. Your vivid little tableau suggested Chrissie Whynne mincing around looking for somewhere to lift his leg and had me wanting to have him rounded up and impounded by the Canberra Dog Catcher. But then I thought, “Unfair to dogs!”

jane, 10/10/11, Great pome and post, patricia.

Miglo, 10/1011, Great commentary, Patricia.

BSA Bob 10/10/11, Good jokes people, but this whole thing is as good an example as you’ll get as to just how horrible Abbott’s lot are.

patriciawa, 10/10/11, Agreed, BSA Bob. truly horrible. Ridicule is less wearing than rage!

Sue, 12/10/11, wonderful words and so stinging for sophie as she is part of the history, but of course she will blame Slipper. patriciawa any possible pome on a Sophie slip up?

Acerbic Conehead, 12/10/11, PatriciaWA, Loved your poem on the Parliament House loos. After that “embrace of Gillard with Rudd”, it was definitely a case of “shit happens” on the Opposition benches.

Patriciawa,    12/10/11,     I have no doubt that her embrace of Rudd after the vote was as sincere as any she offered her other ministers and that his response was as spontaneous as he knew how.     I’ve so wanted to find a way to praise Julia Gillard for her fortitude in the face of almost overwhelming criticism from all quarters outside her own party.   How many of us could have held firm as she has done?     Amazingly Labor has stayed with her.  No one has broken ranks, for all the suggestions of commentators claiming to be in the know about dissension within the party.  Doesn’t that say something about her and the esteem in which she’s held on a personal level?

Kezza2,    19/05/12,     Another classic by you.  Accolades.  I just don’t how you do it!  Well, actually I do.  You have an innate sense of poetry.


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