Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Question Time, too

Question Time, I learned this week, is also the name of a forum in Aus Parliament where MPs (Members of Parliament) can ask questions to be answered by the larger group. It's often used as an opportunity to embarrass or needle the opposition. In the event that the answer is not available, the question will be put "On Notice" and one of the Ministers (always an MP) will be responsible for sending it down the right agency channel to get the appropriate answer. DERM sometimes receives questions sent by the Environment Minister from the Queensland Parliament's Question Time that deal with water, vegetation, and other natural resource issues.

Question Time was where Kevin Rudd was to be found the morning after he was sacked last year as Prime Minister. Folks were surprised to see him there, bleary eyed but doggedly living out his duties as Member for Griffith. His comment on the situation? "Never let the buggers get you down, whoever the buggers might be." Rudd has been in the news a lot lately because there's widespread speculation that he's gearing up to overthrow Prime Minister Gillard (Australia's first female PM) and reclaim his old title. He may not be far off the mark. As one of the papers reported, "there does seem to be a galvanizing feeling... that his political assassination at the hands of the Australian Labor Party factional heavies, and not at the voting booths of Australia, did not pass the test of the country's notion of a fair go."

Rudd hasn't totally disappeared in the year since his deposition. He has been serving as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a job about which he's fairly snarky: "people say I'm constantly in mid-air. That's true. Almost. Though I always remind them-- look carefully at my job description. It does deal with foreigners... most of them live overseas."

Coming from a presidential school, it has been interesting to compare the differences between the executive branch here and back home. For example, the paper reported that in Rudd's old Brisbane office, "27 cardboard packing boxes are stacked against a wall. They are filled with Rudd's handwritten notes, speeches, and personal records from when he was prime minister." Compare THAT to the multi-million dollar repository President Clinton gets for his records.

But does President Clinton have a nickname as endearing as Kevvie? I think not.

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