David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

19 November 2013

The question is : What is the Question?

For our sins, bLOGOS/HA HA has long listened to Question Time in the Australian Parliament.

Yesterday, a moment of rare reward when Madam Speaker (as she requires to be addressed) Bronwyn Bishop turned to us with this theatrical aside:

"There is no shame in having some vociferous exchanges."

Oh, that is so very LOGOS/HA HA
In context, here's how Hansard heard it :

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order—

Mr TURNBULL: That is very relevant.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business? You have had one point of relevancy.

Mr Burke: The question had—

The SPEAKER: What is it? Another point of order?

Mr Burke: The minister is defying your ruling to be directly relevant.

The SPEAKER: No, he is not. There is no point of order. The Minister for Communications.

Mr TURNBULL: Transparency is the order of the day and I embrace that wholeheartedly. Senator Wong went on television on Sunday and, reacting to the report about this investment advice—

Mr Dreyfus: It's got nothing to do with the question.

Mr TURNBULL: It's got nothing to do with your interests, has it? You can't stand the truth, can you? But here it is—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr TURNBULL: Senator Wong said the negative $31 billion figure was 'selective advice'. She did not deny that was given to the government, so we know that was given to the government. The way to put it into context—

The SPEAKER: The minister will return—

Mr TURNBULL: is for all those documents to be released—

The SPEAKER: Minister!

Mr TURNBULL: and you can do it.

An opposition member interjecting—

The SPEAKER: There is no shame in having some vociferous exchanges.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, could the minister please table the document he was referring to.

Does the minister have a document which is not confidential?

Mr TURNBULL: Madam Speaker, it gets worse and worse: he thinks he is in Hogwarts! He thinks I had a document under—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat! The Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: If it is of assistance, the minister was referring to his incoming government brief in his answer and it should be tabled.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: I think we don't need a point of order. There was no point of order. We will return to questions.

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20 NOVEMBER 2013
Addendum : When is a Question not an Acceptable Question?

We missed yesterday's Question Time, but when we tuned in today the circus had not missed a single meta-beat :

Mr PYNE: It was an excellent answer and I actually could not hear some of it because of the extraordinary level of noise coming from some of these people like the member for Adelaide, who is doing it now in fact.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the House, but I did observe that though there was an attempt at cacophony to intimidate the minister, it failed. She was not intimidated and was quite able to continue to answer her question.


Mr MARLES (Corio) (14:21): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. In light of the minister's previous answer—and, indeed, his answers over the last week—why does the minister even bother turning up to question time? 

Mr PYNE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: there is some latitude given to opposition questioning, particularly new oppositions who are getting used to it, but that is not a question to the minister—it is not about responsibilities. It is simply a smear and it should be ruled out of order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on the point of order: it is completely in order. It is telling that the Leader of the House could not refer to Practice or refer to a standing order. This goes to the very basis of whether or not a minister has arrived here to answer questions, and the opposition has every right to question why on earth he is here.

The SPEAKER: I intend to deal with the issue. Under standing order 100(d), questions must not contain arguments, inferences, imputation, insults, irony or hypothetical matter. I think the question fails on at least four issues. If the minister has a question and would like to rephrase it so it has some substance and is within the standing orders I would give him that opportunity.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker?

The SPEAKER: I give the call to the Manager of Opposition Business, if he has something of substance to say.

Mr Burke: The concern from the opposition was the question. If that is your ruling, it will be no different to the other answers we did not get any way.

The SPEAKER: I find that comment of the Manager of Opposition Business offensive and he will withdraw.

Mr Burke: I withdraw, but it was not directed to you at all—

The SPEAKER: Well, I took it that way.

Mr Burke: it was directed to the minister.

The SPEAKER: I took it that way.

Mr Burke: No, it was absolutely directed to the minister.

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I offered the member for Corio the opportunity to rephrase his question, should he wish. If he does not wish, I call the member for Dawson.

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20 NOVEMBER 2013
Black Hole Ruled Not Unparliamentary
Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I call on the minister to withdraw the phrase he has just used. It is clearly disorderly, clearly offensive and should form no part of the deliberations of this parliament, let alone an answer in question time from a minister. 
Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: We will have silence. If the reference was to the term 'Bowen black hole', it is not unparliamentary. Indeed, there has been a long history in this place—prior to your entering it—of members who have been treasurers being utilised in that term. I call the minister.

Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, if I could be further heard on this point: I again suggest that this is offensive and offends in particular against the principle that members should be referred to by their electorates or their titles.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I call the minister.

Mr Andrews: I will tell you who this is offensive to: it is offensive to the Australian people who are now struggling with the debt that you left them. That is the reality. 
Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: There is too much noise on my left! 

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20 NOVEMBER 2013
Here's LOGOS in your eye!

Mr PYNE (Sturt—Minister for Education) (14:36): Many in the Labor Party refuse to remove the log in their own eye with respect to this matter.  
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