I had no trouble listening to Rob Oakeshott’s speech yesterday when he took over sixteen minutes to tell us he was going to support Labor in parliament. Announcing his decision at the end of the speech rather than the beginning was a sure way to keep our attention. Would we have listened to his comments if he had announced his decision first?
Oakeshott’s speech was nothing compared to what politicians dished up in 1910. For the last few weeks I have been reading the parliamentary debates regarding Queensland’s Bible in State Schools referendum and the subsequent amendment to the Education Act that reintroduced religious instruction into Queensland’s schools. We know that parliamentary debates can be lengthy but one debate on the issue in October 1910 went on for twenty three hours – yes, 23 hours! They started at 4pm and finished at 2:20pm the next day with a 75 minute break for breakfast. Yes, they were complaining at 2:45am but they soldiered on.
As we all know, our productivity and thought processes drop when we lack sleep. Sometimes we get plain silly. Take this observation from a member in the wee hours of the morning:
Mr. Murphy pointed out that religious instruction was taught in the schools in Portugal in the morning, and that might have had some influence on the revolution going on in that country.
Queensland Parliamentary Debates, 6 Oct. 1910, p. 1323.
Not suprisingly no-one responded to this comment. Or maybe they did but the Hansard reporter was having a micro-sleep at the time. The Hansard reporter had given up transcribing everything and had started to summarise. The politicians chose to debate at these unusual hours. Hansard reporters had no choice.
And in the interests of not emulating the loquaciousness of these politicians I will sign off!