I often look through the statistics for this blog to see what pages have been linking to here and what people are searching for in order to get here. The information generally informs me about what subjects interest people and often lead me to interesting bits of information on other websites. Today is no exception.
Yesterday somebody landed here after searching for information about a rumour about 2UE’s Stuart Bocking. I won’t mention the rumour because it is patently false and absurd, but the search query did interest me so I checked it out myself and, on the first page of results, found this gem from New South Wales Government Hansard  from the 13th of May 2008, which had me in hysterics. Enjoy!
GOVERNMENT OPERATING SURPLUS
The Hon. GREG PEARCE: My question is directed to the Treasurer. Does the Treasurer recall the statement in the Stokes and Vertigan audit of New South Wales Government finances that:
The government should build an operating surplus of at least $1 billion to fund the State’s expanded Capital Works Program.
That was on page 8. Noting that the Government’s response failed to address this recommendation at all, what is the Government’s target operating surplus?
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: The honourable member has raised an important point and it is one that we will cover in the budget this year. Budget Paper No. 2 will give a full and transparent account of the state of the State’s finances. It is interesting that the honourable member has asked me a different question—it is not about fiscal targets this time. I suppose it reflects the fact he has now been lifted from 19 to 15 in the shadow Cabinet as part of the recent change that occurred when Peter Debnam decided that he could not support the Opposition’s backflip on energy policy. It is interesting that the movement from 19 to 15 has not helped lift his public profile. The other night there was a quiz on Stuart Bocking’s show on 2UE about who the shadow Treasurer was.
The Hon. Greg Pearce: Point of order: The question was very specific. It related to a recommendation of the Stokes and Vertigan report and the target operating surplus.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I ask the Treasurer to be generally relevant.
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: There was a quiz to name the shadow Treasurer of New South Wales. They sought an answer for 12 minutes. Thirteen people rang up and could not come up with his name. Some of the guesses were Stoner Anthony, whoever that is, Wayne Swan, Michael Egan, Julian Skinner, and two calls on Barry O’Farrell. The presenter had to suggest listeners think of Michael Costa’s opposite number in the Parliament as it should be etched in everybody’s mind. Of course it was not. They even asked a reporter who covers the State parliamentary round, Latika Bourke, who it was and her response was—
The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox: Point of order: I ask you to interrupt the Treasurer’s diatribe and bring him back to the question. Let us have some relevance to the question.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I ask the Treasurer to continue to be generally relevant.
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: Latika Bourke covers the State parliamentary round but she said to the presenter, “Look, you’re killing me. I don’t know who it is. I thought it was Barry O’Farrell.” Then someone said maybe it’s Malcolm Turnbull. A guy named Tom rang in and said it was Mike Griffiths. Somebody else rang in and then Bocking had to give a hint. He said that his first name was Greg—so he gave the audience a hint about who the shadow Treasurer was. The next caller rang in and said, “Is it Greg Knowles?” Then it was “Greg Alpine”. Finally the presenter had to give in and tell them it was Greg Pearce. The presenter finished up by saying, “He’s missing in action. Where is this man? He’s been a member of the Legislative Council since 2000. I’d say, based on this, he hasn’t done a whole lot while he’s been there.” That sums up the career of Greg Pearce.
Some days I wonder why we even bother having Question Time other than to keep the parliamentary staff awake. Think about it…when was the last time that we actually found out anything useful in question time? Any question on-notice receives an incomprehensible answer from the responsible department, and any question without notice simply turns in to a mud-slinging match with bonus points for interjections.
What’s the point of Question Time when The Daily Telegraph can find out more information more quickly and present it in a more understandable and relevant format? Surely that hour each day of the already scarce amount of time allocated to sessions of parliament would be better utilised by the standard job of parliament…the act of governing by debating and voting on bills. At least then we might be able to work out why we’re paying these people, even if the majority of the general public can’t name the bloke that the opposition would put in charge of paying them.