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HEALTHY PARLIAMENT MEASURING A Table 1: Bills passed by legislation, 2012


societies. The vast amount of news resources available in modern society have increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting media providers to deliver the latest news in the most compelling manner in order to remain ahead of competitors. Television, radio, print, online, and now apps for news all have different broadcasters who want to remain relevant to their audiences and deliver news first.”


Should we modify our promotion efforts to take advantage of current media trends and provide a simplified summary of Parliament’s key achievements?


Which measures? Table 2: Questions without notice asked in 2012 (unless otherwise specified)


If one does decide to choose 10 measures of a healthy Parliament the immediate questions that arise are, which ones? And what is considered “healthy?”


In a paper on benchmarking I presented in 2004, I turned to the archetypal bureaucrat of our time, Sir Humphrey Appleby, from the BBC’s political satire Yes Minister, as to how we might measure success. As Sir Humphrey observed:


convey their policy priorities if elected to office. In my internet searching I came across “My 10 point plan to reboot Britain” which would, according to the article, “reboot Britain’s crippled downgraded economy”. Why 10? Apart from the obvious biblical connection, it is because it is concise, memorable and easily understood. Advances in technology have meant that Parliaments have


new avenues to communicate its business. Parliaments have adapted to the new technology in the way they provide information about their activities and achievements. For example the federal Parliament has a magazine and a TV show, while many Legislatures provide an almost live version of their minutes of proceedings. Twitter accounts and even Facebook pages are also


the norm for many Parliaments and Legislatures.


We are now living in what is termed the 24/7 news cycle. The new dictionary and encyclopaedia of our times, Wikipedia, defines the 24 hour news cycle like this to:


“24-hour investigation and reporting of news, concomitant with fast-paced lifestyle of modern


“There has been some way to measure success in the Service. British Leyland can measure success by the size of its profits. However, the Civil Service does not make profits or losses. Ergo, we measure success by the size of our staff and our budget. By definition a big department is more successful than a small one. It seems extraordinary that Woolley could have passed through the Civil Service College without having understood that this simple proposition is the basis of our whole system.” (Memo from Sir Humphrey Appleby)


Following Sir Humphrey’s advice, we could simply calculate who has passed the most legislation and who has asked the most questions without notice, which would tell us who was the biggest and thus most successful and healthy. Amongst the Australian and NZ Legislatures, the healthiest


The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three | 187


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