Anna Burke … the class of 2012


Order! The Member for Transylvania will withdraw
Order! The Member for Transylvania will withdraw

29 November 2012

On and on it went, question time after question time during the final week of Federal Parliament for 2012. Julie Bishop rising to her feet countless times to say, “My question is to the Prime Minister”, followed by a plethora of accusations and claims about Prime Minister Gillard’s past as a lawyer with Slater & Gordon, her involvement with then boyfriend Bruce Wilson and that infamous slush fund.

I was there in the public gallery each day and it really did become painful to listen to. Not just with Bishop’s dog-with-a-bone antics, but with Gillard’s return fire – she must have said “sleaze and smear” at least 100 times.

Julie Bishop was determined to draw blood but Gillard was as stone-like as ever, and Bishop failed – testament to the old adage: you can’t get blood out of stone.

Painful as it was, it was pure theatre and for that I loved being there. As good theatre as you will find anywhere and what’s more, it was free!

But the star of the show was undoubtedly Speaker Anna Burke. I was not alone as I giggled every time she said “The member for (such and such) will withdraw” or “The member for (such and such) will resume his (or her) seat”.

Making the likes of Christopher Pyne, Joe Hockey, Bronwyn Bishop (and Julie Bishop herself) look so helpless after rising  to object to the speaker’s directives, was done so masterfully that it became humorous. They looked like naughty little school children being ticked off by their teacher.

On the other side, Anthony Albanese – who must have been a circus clown in a past life – pushed the boundaries and was given short shrift by Burke, whilst Gillard was brought into line unceremoniously when she stepped out of line.

All done with aplomb, that innate subliminal humour and that cut-through voice that would put razor blades to shame.

Anna Burke and the class of 2012 … Anna Burke was the class of 2012!

Related Sydney Morning Herald column