ROBUST FORUM: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks during Question Time in the lower house at the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne.
ROBUST FORUM: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks during Question Time in the lower house at the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne. AAP/TRACEY NEARMY

Shielded from war of words

WE ALL fear people raising a generation of very soft kids, but sadly this week we got more proof they are.

The Victorian Parliament is telling school students they will be exposed to bullying when they watch Question Time.

Tour guides are telling teachers children can opt out of watching "disturbing verbal altercations”, with claims some kids have been distressed by what they have seen on the floor of the house.

These aren't rouge super sensitive tour guides who've made this decision on their own; it comes from the Parliament's Speaker who has confirmed they have set up the new guidelines.

But when news broke, rather than sweeping this social cotton wool aside, the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said "Parliament is a very robust forum and we debate, discuss and argue about very important things. I am sure all of us can perhaps reflect on how we conduct ourselves. We always need to be mindful that debate be in as respectful terms as possible.”

It's not hard to work out how we got here. In sport it feels like every kid gets a prize, you can't fail kids at school and by the time they get to university we have "safe spaces” where they won't be "triggered” by the nasty outside world.

It's fair to say many MPs act like children in Question Time, but we live in an adversarial political system where passions can become inflamed and they all often compete to hit the hardest so they make the TV news that night.

While not model behaviour, this is part of the process and one that can be explained to children before they watch the battle take place.

We have to raise children with an understanding of how the world works; sometimes you win, often you don't, and sometimes there will be harsh critics along the way.

Sadly, we can't expect them to learn these life lessons when even our parliaments are trying to shield them from the way the world is, not the world we might sometimes want it to be.


Bill Shorten is proving he hasn't learnt much since he was part of the Labor government that shut down the Live Export industry.

Speaking late in the week, the opposition leader said he supports the move by the Western Australian government to stop ships being able to transport animals at the heights of the northern hemisphere summer.

But this isn't about saving animals, it's about setting up a fight with the government at the next election.

It seems there will be a vote in the Senate at least to either limit or shut down the trade.

At this stage the government won't support the vote, which means even if it passes the senate it will be blocked in the lower house and Shorten will be able to campaign on it at the election. This will help lock in Greens preferences that, let's be honest, he's going to get anyway.

My solution to the current dilemma is better regulation.

Just like you can't buy car without a seatbelt, you shouldn't be allowed to carry live animals unless the ship doesn't crowd the animals, and the places they are put have floors where waste can fall through grates and is cleaned daily. Cameras can be placed and officials can monitor them to see any abuse in real time with strong penalties to follow.