Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Good Manners, Howard Style

God love him - I think he does actually honestly believe his own BS these days.

John Howard tells the public to improve its manners.

Coming up next: Bert Newton on retiring gracefully, Shane Warne on how to treat a lady properly and Eddie Maguire explains why talent is so critical to success and media profile.

SX -

I had to chuckle when I read our beloved Prime Minister decrying the “marked deterioration in good manners” as he called for Australians to be more polite.

I wonder if he actually pays attention to what goes on in his own workplace. Did he have in mind at all an average Parliament Question Time session or the actions of some of his colleagues when sermonising on this issue?

The behaviour of some of our parliamentarians is so aggressive, offensive and outrageously rude it would put a standard primary school playground in the shade. One backbencher summed up the problem perfectly back in 2000: “Question time should be a time for tough and unrelenting questions where they are warranted, but it has become a time for consistent personal attack, for exchange of abuse across the chamber and for aggressive and unprofessional behaviour – and all this whilst often the question remains unanswered. I am sure that every one of us here would banish any child from our dinner table if they behaved in such a way.”

Of course, John Howard himself always endeavours to behave in a “proper, polite fashion” during his time in parliament and certainly, he does not have the acerbic wit, bullying demeanour (outside of the party room, at least), explicit cruelty and at times foul mouth of his predecessor, Paul Keating.

But as is so often the case, Howard’s actions blatantly contradict his words. Last year, political defector-to-be Senator Julian McGauran gave Opposition members the infamous one-finger salute – before an audience of school children, no less – after extensive grilling over his continued mediocre performance. The Howard government refused to discipline him for this, with its Senate President deciding not to refer the matter to the privileges committee and conveniently saving McGauran from a possible fine, suspension or even jail for contempt of parliament.

Howard identifies television networks and parents as the two entities primarily responsible for educating people, children especially, to mind their manners – easy scapegoats, and a denial of his own responsibility as leader of our country and leader of the ruling government and its members. He speaks of “vulgarism” on television but makes no mention of the vulgarism to which children are likely to be exposed on any school trip to Parliament House.

I’m not saying Howard is personally responsible for the gutter level to which our parliament has descended – this was a downward trend that had commenced long before he became Prime Minister. I am suggesting, however, that until such time as federal politics demonstrates some good manners of its own, he might like to keep quiet on the matter. Hypocrisy is no more endearing than rudeness and should not be encouraged in people either.


At 31/1/06 3:50 pm, Anonymous Bazza ( Two months to go!) said...

The joke about JH. He goes on about the teaching of history in schools, yet when he his questioned about a contentious issue, he comes back with " I was not informed," "I do not recall." What level of historic knowledge does this man have.
In fact, if does'nt know whats going on, who the hell is running the country?

At 1/2/06 11:11 am, Blogger JahTeh said...

Having come home on the train yesterday with a battlalion of 'Kylie Moles', I'd say good manners are going the same way as Howard's memory, to hell in a handcart.

At 1/2/06 4:28 pm, Anonymous kate said...

in the nicest possible way Sam, why did you add all that pink around your borders? it makes you look kinda, well, tacky. friends have to tell each other these things. you'd tell me if my skirt was see-through wouldn't you?

and anyway, it makes it really obvious to the office that I'm not looking at an academic site.

At 1/2/06 4:42 pm, Blogger Sam said...

No I appreciate the tough love Kate - you're now the 4th person to give it the thumbs down. I'm on the case.

At 1/2/06 6:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the PM is the shining beacon of politeness and manners! Just look at how quickly and harshly he disciplined Bill Heffernan over his disgusting, unfounded and extremely impolite attack on Justice Kirby a few years back. With role models like the PM no wonder kids think its fine to be rude and crude! CW

At 2/2/06 9:46 am, Anonymous Bec said...

All i can say is if i came upon the Prime Minister, i probably wouldn't be very polite.

I'm generally a very polite person. So what does that say? He inspires bad behaviour in me.


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