Holding Government to Account

Image courtesy of Parliamentary Education Office

Image courtesy of Parliamentary Education Office

By Annabelle Creer, Year 11 Legal Studies Subject Captain 

Year 11 Legal Studies students at Parliament HouseOn 1 September, our Year 11 Legal Studies class was very fortunate to go on an excursion to Parliament House where we watched the weekly parliamentary event, Question Time.  The event is held in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, where the Opposition is allowed to scrutinise the Government of the day.  It is a nationally broadcast event which is also open to members of the public and press. The idea behind Question Time is to allow the members of both chambers to hold members of the executive government to account. 

It was very interesting to see politics in action and to be able to apply knowledge gained from the classroom to a practical environment, however, the event was very different from what many of us anticipated Question Time would be.   When thinking of Parliamentary debates and sitting weeks, it would be natural to assume a degree of formality and professionalism.  Question Time however contradicted many of these assumptions and expectations.  Due to the media broadcast of the sitting, it appeared to be more of a theatrical event than a display of democracy or skilful politics, with many outspoken Members/Senators continually preventing other Members/Senators from getting a word in edgeways.   

The whole experience, watching questions with and without notice, left many of us wondering whether this really was our doctrine of representative government in action?  That said, it was a very practical, interesting and engaging excursion which has enhanced all student’s knowledge of the machinations of Federal Parliament.  Many thanks go to our teacher, Mrs Gregory, for organising the excursion.



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