Malcolm Turnbull has noticed something the rest of Australia has known for a while – that Tony Abbott is doing his best to abuse the institution of Question Time.
During last night’s George Winterton Lecture, Malcolm Turnbull said,
“For the last two years the questions from the Opposition have been almost entirely focussed on people smuggling and the carbon tax.
“Are they really the only important issues facing Australia? A regular viewer of Question Time would be excused for thinking they were.”
It is not surprising that Malcolm Turnbull makes this observation.
Malcolm Turnbull is the Opposition’s Communications spokesperson.
I represent the Minister for Communications in the House.
But Malcolm Turnbull has not been allowed to ask me a single question this year.
Or last year.
His last question about the Communications portfolio was in October 2010.
In fact, Malcolm Turnbull has only been allowed to ask one question during Question Time all year, despite being a senior frontbencher and a former Opposition Leader.
Junior Opposition MPs like Wyatt Roy, Louise Markus, Ken O’Dowd, Ewen Jones and Natasha Griggs have asked three times as many questions as Malcolm Turnbull.
It works the other way as well.
More than half of the Government frontbench – twelve ministers – have not had a single question from the Opposition this year.
Not a single question has been put by the Opposition to Jenny Macklin, Peter Garrett, Tanya Plibersek, Simon Crean, Craig Emerson, Nicola Roxon, Mark Butler, Jason Clare, Kate Ellis, Julie Collins or Warren Snowdon, or to myself.
The idea that the ministers responsible for the NDIS, Gonski review, aged care reform or mental health reform shouldn’t be asked a single question by the Opposition is ridiculous.
Unlike his predecessors, Tony Abbott has no interest in positive policy. His only interest is in saying no.
Tony Abbott has turned the Coalition of yesterday into the Noalition of today.