News National It’s OK to waste taxpayers’ money on stupid motions. Just ask these senators

It’s OK to waste taxpayers’ money on stupid motions. Just ask these senators

Pauline Hanson's motion narrowly failed to pass in the Senate on Monday. Photo: AAP
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The week has barely begun but it’s already a rich one for displaying politicians’ contempt for giving taxpayers value for money.

Whether it’s the brazen by-election pork barrelling of Scott Morrison flicking the Bronte surf club $2 million or the highlighting of excessive pensions for Governors-General, the unnecessary wasting of public money has been front and centre.

But for headlining what a waste of space our political masters can be, there’s no beating the Senate’s effort in actually agreeing to debate and vote on Pauline Hanson’s “It’s OK to be white” motion.

Given the cost of transporting, feeding, watering and housing our senators during their Canberra visitations, never mind their $200K base pay packets, it would seem reasonable for us to expect them to be capable of more than farce.

Or perhaps our esteemed senators have hit upon a novel way for the “unrepresentative swill” (as Paul Keating described them) to fill in their time, lacking anything better to do.

Now that the “It’s OK to be white” motion has set the precedent, we can await a regular roster of similar efforts.

For starters, I’m offering:

  • It’s OK to be right-handed
  • It’s OK to be left-handed
  • It’s OK to call them potato cakes or scallops
  • It’s OK to wear blue and green at the same time
  • It’s OK to drink red wine with fish. (I’d better be clear for the sake of One Nation representatives – I mean drinking red wine while eating fish. There’s never been an issue about drinking whatever you like in the company of fish)
  • It’s OK to be red-headed
  • It’s OK to not be red-headed.

The possibilities for passing the time on the soft red leather seats of the Senate seem to be endless. The Twitterati have come to my aid with further suggestions:

  • It’s OK to be rich
  • It’s OK if you say tomarto and I say tomayto
  • It’s OK to claim $38K in internet expenses
  • It’s OK to earn $200,000 a year wasting time with bullsh-t resolutions.

But there’s always the risk of a troublemaker getting edgy with what the Senate might be capable of handling. @keskes60 asked how this Senate would cope with:

  • It’s OK to be gay
  • It’s OK to be Muslim
  • It’s OK to be Aboriginal
  • It’s OK to accept welfare when you need it
  • It’s OK to hold children on Nauru indefinitely.

I somehow doubt this Senate is capable of behaving in a civilised manner with those topics.

Of course, it would strike a reasonably sane person as amazing that such a silly motion as “It’s OK to be white” would be debated, especially when it’s known to be a favourite line of white supremacist types – but that was all about the federal government being beholden to Pauline Hanson.

If debating the motion is amazing, the fact that 28 senators (government senators and the more obvious crossbench ratbags) supported it is astounding. In effect, those 28 fell into line with a white supremacist meme.

The motion was narrowly defeated 31-28, despite the support of many government senators.

it marked a bleak day for the reputation of the Australian Senate.

For distraction, the campaign by some abuse survivors to have former Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth stripped of his pension would have alerted many people to the extreme generosity we have towards former representatives of the Queen in this country.

Dr Hollingworth only served as GG for two years before resigning over his handling of sex abuse allegations against Anglican priests. Like other GGs, he’s now on a tax-free annual pension of $357,732, plus a Commonwealth-funded office and staff in the Melbourne CBD. He spent more than $275,000 on office and travel expenses in 2015-16.

That’s not bad for a retired Anglican cleric, or anyone really.

It’s fair to question whether any former GG deserves such largesse, as the role tends to be something of a semi-retirement sinecure anyway. It wasn’t as if Dr Hollingworth was giving up a rich corporate income to take up residence in Yarralumla and Admiralty House.

But, hey, it’s only your money – Who cares?

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