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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12798


Ms BRODTMANN (Canberra) (13:58): At its recent triennial conference in Canberra, the National Council of Women of Australia presented me with a petition demanding 'a more civil and dignified approach to parliamentary debate at the federal level and for greater respect to be demonstrated to the office of the Prime Minister'. The petition, which was signed by more than 700 women across Australia, went on to say that the 'increasingly crude, juvenile, disrespectful and overly combative behaviour of many members degrades parliamentary process, creates an inappropriate behavioural model for our youth and causes ridicule in the eyes of world nations'. According to the conference organisers, the petition was triggered by a speech I gave to the ACT arm of the council in May. In that speech, I said that, for most of the time, parliament is 'a functioning, calm and respectful' place. I want decent and civilised debate on issues that matter in Australia, devoid of personal attack, particularly on the grounds of gender.

I am calling on leaders on all sides of the media and politics and in the community to invoke the values and spirit of two of Australia's greatest prime ministers, so beautifully articulated in a sign along the RG Menzies Walk:

The day Menzies resigned as Prime Minister of Australia, in August 1941, he sent a short note to John Curtin, leader of the Labor Party, thanking him for his 'magnanimous and understanding attitude. Your political opposition has been honourable and your personal friendship a pearl of great price'. Curtin replied: 'Your personal friendship is something I value … as a very precious thing'.

I present the petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of the National Council of Women of Australia draws to the attention of the House the increasingly crude, juvenile, disrespectful and overly combative behaviour of many members which degrades the parliamentary process and causes ridicule in the eye of world nations.

We therefore ask the House to:

The National Council of Women of Australia calls upon the House of Representatives to demand a more civil and dignified approach to parliamentary debate at the Federal level and for greater respect to be demonstrated to the Office of Prime Minister.

The increasingly crude, juvenile, disrespectful and overly combative behaviour of many members, degrades parliamentary process, creates and inappropriate behavioural model for our youth and causes ridicule in the eyes of world nations.

from 904 citizens

Petition received.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members’ statements has concluded.