As I drove home yesterday I was listening to what appeared to be Parliament Question Time for the Senate. The speakers rarely mentioned any facts: “$5.2 billion” was one fact mentioned, “$55 million” was another; “Julia Gillard” was a third. Yet over 20 minutes there was little else except one person reviling the incompetence of (a member of) the opposition, making absurd accusations such as ‘this shows that the opposition does not want the Australian public to be educated’.

It is normal for a bipartisan legislature to disagree over policy but is this incontinent, irrational ranting how Australia is governed? Where are the facts: the numbers, the statistics, the evidence? If “Yes Minister” is anything to go by – and I am assured it does provide a degree of accurate insight into governmental procedure – it may be best that politicians are prevented from governing the country.

Where is the politician who can rise above the argument ad hominem, who can applaud the good work of the opposition party, who can state facts simply – even if that is to boldly state: ‘It’s too delicate a matter for you to know’ (say, in the instance of the press seeking inside information about a sensitive issue, just so they can publish a story), or ‘I don’t know’, or ‘there’s no simple answer’?

Whatever I may otherwise think of him, I applaud Tony Abbott’s boldness in stating his views on sex before marriage (what he would tell his daughters about sex). Those who ridiculed him showed neither tolerance nor insight: having sex with only one partner for life means: no sexually transmitted diseases, no problems with jealousy of previous partners, fewer problems about issues of pregnancy and children – such as income and emotional support – and so, in theory, a more stable relationship.

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