More featuring Bert Kelly»

Bert Kelly, “The silly image of our MPs,” The Advertiser, December 22, 1977, p. 4. Published two days later as “The politician and his image,” The Age, December 24, 1977, p. 10.

When I was defeated for pre-selection most of my friends gave me some sympathy for two reasons.

They knew that it hurt my ego and most of them were concerned that the lower tariff cause had lost a persistent advocate. Having said that, they almost all closed the conversation by saying, “You must be very glad to be out of the wretched, sordid life, Bert.”

This comment was particularly pointed during the election campaign which was conducted at the lowest level by both big parties.

Why is it that the ordinary citizen usually regards Members of Parliament with cynical disdain?

People are nice to us when they want money for some cause or when they want us to open something or other. Indeed, I found that most people treat individual Members with respect much of the time.

It is only when they think of Members of Parliament as a group that their gore really rises.

One reason for this is the general Australian suspicion of anyone higher on the money scale than they. Another is an underestimation by the citizen of the amount of dedicated work done by a good Member.

But the main reason why parliamentarians are held in such universal low regard is that when we are in Parliament our behaviour is so silly.

We spend far too much of our time trying to score personal points off our opponents. Sometimes at the end of a parliamentary week I have heard some of the clever ones in my party making wise assessments about the events of that week. You would hear one say, “We finished up this week well ahead.”

But I bet that if this Member went down the street next day he would be desolated to find that his friends were absolutely indifferent as to who won the week’s argument, and even worse, most of them would have been blissfully unaware that the House was even sitting.

Our citizens should, however, realise that Members of Parliament are all egotists, otherwise we wouldn’t have the nerve to go around asking people to vote for us. And if we politicians aren’t queer before we start, the life we lead ensures that we are soon after.

Egotists that we are, we never really understand how little it means to the citizen if we win a week’s argument in Canberra, but that doesn’t stop us behaving as if the whole world was watching us with breathless interest.

There is another reason why we are so badly regarded. When both sides of the House are in agreement about some matter one of two things happens: either the debate is so dull that no one listens or it is so short that you haven’t got time to listen.

So the public doesn’t often hear us agreeing with one another and sometimes we do this quite nicely.

But disagreeing with the other side seems to bring out the beast in us. Far too often we end up criticising people and not policies and this makes people despise us.

Why we behave like that is hard to understand. We often blame the Press knowing that the Press is likely to notice a Member if he behaves like a yahoo.

But probably the real reason is that we think this is the natural way for a politician to behave. And he is more likely to feel like this when he notices that the front bench on both sides, particularly our present leaders, delight in personal abuse.

We should, however, realise that not all the abuse that you hear in Parliament is genuine.

Once I was acting as Government Whip and we were having a debate on a critical Bill. There was an important function at Government House on the evening on which the debate was to conclude so a deal was done between the Whips for the division to be taken in time for the good and the great to get to Government House. I think the time arranged between Gil Duthie, the Labor Whip, and me was 5:30 p.m.

I hopefully suggested that surely it wouldn’t be necessary for me to move the gag no that we had come to an agreement. Gil’s reply was quick and pointed. “Don’t be a nit, Bert,” he said, “we have to go through the motions of frantic opposition to the Bill so you would have to move the gag if the time was 5:30 in the morning.”

So I knew where my duty lay. I had to move the gag in time for the division to be held in time for the leaders to go to Yarralumla.

At 5:30 p.m. my last speaker was on his feet and I was anxiously watching the clock when Gil came across the chamber and said, “Now Bert, you know the position, don’t you? When your chap sits down I’m going to jump up and if you don’t gag me I’ll be like a shag on a rock standing there with nothing to say!”

I comforted him by saying that gagging was the kind of simple process which a modest man such as I could understand so he could rely on me completely.

Eventually my man sat down and Gil lept to this feet so I moved that the question be put, to be greeted with a howl of simulated rage from Gil. “You jackbooted Fascist,” he yelled across the chamber.

Not all the angry words you hear are said in earnest.

The cruel thing is that Members who behave badly in Parliament often behave with impeccable decorum and good sense when on parliamentary work.

I was a member of the Public Works Committee for many years and no one on the committee would claim that we were the greatest lot of brains in the country. But after many Public Works Committee enquiries I have heard witnesses say that the way the committee handled its task made them more hopeful about the democratic process.

I have never known a party political division on the committee and this goes whether it was serving under a Liberal or Labor chairman.

So parliamentarians can and do behave sensibly — but it is mostly when no one is watching.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Bert Kelly on his journalism
  2. Move for a body of Modest Members
  3. Modest Members Association
  4. Bert Kelly's Maiden Parliamentary Speech
  5. Government Intervention
  6. 1976 Monday Conference transcript featuring Bert Kelly
  7. Bert Kelly, Hayek and Mencken on the virtues of farmers
  8. Sound economics calls for quiet from government
  9. Petrol for Farmers
  10. Some Sacred Cows
  11. Experiences in Parliament
  12. Spending your Money
  13. Is Taxmania a politician fetish?
  14. How Bert Kelly repays a free feed
  15. Modest column #898
  16. Chicken-hearted feathered friends strange bedfellows on a feather bed?
  17. Who needs literary licence?
  18. A touch of Fred's anarchy
  19. Helping the farmers help themselves
  20. Standing on the shoulders of the downtrodden
  21. Supply and Demand
  22. Bert Kelly responds to claims he is arrogant and uncredentialed
  23. Politics: it's a very confusing business
  24. The best featherbeds run on rails
  25. Bert Kelly on Disaster Relief
  26. Bert Kelly Wants to Secede
  27. Blinded by their tears
  28. Anti-freedom pro-tobacco industry lobby harmed Australia
  29. Under Labor, is working hard foolish?
  30. An Idiot's Guide to Interventionism
  31. Is free healthcare worthless?
  32. Can government kiss it better?
  33. Bert Kelly Destroys the Side Benefits Argument for Government
  34. Bert Kelly gets his head around big-headed bird-brained politics
  35. First Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  36. Second Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  37. Third Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  38. Fourth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  39. Fifth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  40. Sixth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  41. Bert Kelly on the 2011 Budget and Australia's Pathetic Journalists and Politicians
  42. Bert Kelly, Bastard or Simple Sod?
  43. Liberal Backbencher Hits Govt. Over Import Restrictions
  44. Bert Kelly feels a dam coming on at each election
  45. Bert Kelly Enters Parliament
  46. Why take in one another's washing?
  47. Bert Kelly breaks the law, disrespects government and enjoys it
  48. Gillard's galley-powered waterskiing
  49. State Premiers are always asking for more taxing powers
  50. Can price control really work?
  51. Should we put up with socialism?
  52. We're quick to get sick of socialism
  53. Time the protection racket ended
  54. Can't pull the wool over Farmer Fred
  55. People not Politics
  56. Bert Kelly admits he should have had less faith in politicians
  57. The inspirational incentivising Dear Leader Gough Whitlam
  58. Labor: a girl who couldn't say no
  59. Why leading businessmen carry black briefcases
  60. Ludwig von Mises on page 3 of AFR
  61. Bert Kelly's empowering feminism
  62. Mavis wants the Modest Member to dedicate his book to her
  63. What if the whole country is swindled?
  64. Moss Cass: "Flood plains are for floods"
  65. A worm's eye view
  66. Eccles returns to haunt us
  67. How to grip a politician's ear
  68. It's hard to digest this economic cake
  69. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  70. Cold water on government-instigated irrigation schemes
  71. Hooray for Ord River Dam!
  72. Tariffs paid by exporters
  73. The problem of principles v popularity
  74. If you support State Quotas, where will your logic take you?
  75. Against guidance by government
  76. A socialist in Liberal clothing
  77. Never ask the government to help
  78. Don't listen to economists!
  79. Bert Kelly's revolutionary strategy
  80. Whitlam's July 1973 25% tariff cut
  81. Bert Kelly on Import Quotas
  82. Good directions when government backseat driving, like reversing down wrong side of road
  83. Barriers to imports are barriers to exports
  84. Bert Kelly reviews The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop
  85. Bert Kelly reviews We Were There
  86. Tariffs get the fork-tongue treatment
  87. Bert Kelly reduces government to its absurdities
  88. Politician sacrifices his ... honesty
  89. It's all a matter of principle
  90. Bert Kelly Destroys the Infant Industry Argument
  91. Bert Kelly Untangles Tariff Torment
  92. Bert Kelly resorts to prayer
  93. Eccles keeps our nose hard down on the tariff grindstone
  94. "Don't you believe in protecting us against imports from cheap labour countries?"
  95. Even if lucky, we needn't be stupid
  96. Great "freedom of choice" mystery
  97. Small government's growth problem
  98. I like my kind acts to get a mention in the press
  99. A Modest Member rakes the embers
  100. Tariffs Introduced
  101. More About Tariffs
  102. Sacred cow kicker into print
  103. Bert Kelly's 1984 two-article quote-collection on Aboriginal policies
  104. Modest Member must not give up
  105. Traditional Wheat Farming is Our Birthright and Heritage and Must be Protected!
  106. Tariff-cut nonsense lives on
  107. Bert Kelly brilliantly defends "theoretical academics"
  108. The high cost of protection
  109. Generosity creates problems
  110. The Society of Modest Members
  111. John Hyde's illogical, soft, complicated, unfocussed and unsuccessful attempt to communicate why he defends markets
  112. Modesty ablaze
  113. Case for ministers staying home
  114. The unusual self-evident simplicity of the Modest Members Society
  115. Animal lib the new scourge of the bush
  116. The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Krill
  117. modest members society
  118. Repeal economic laws, force people to buy new cars and enforce tariffs against overseas tennis players
  119. Thoughts on how to kill dinosaurs
  120. Let's try the chill winds
  121. Taking the Right's road
  122. Bert Kelly: "I did not try often or hard enough"
  123. Bert Kelly "lacked ... guts and wisdom"
  124. A look at life without tariffs
  125. The Gospel according to Bert
  126. Tiny note on Bert Kelly's column in The Bulletin in 1985
  127. Why costs can't be guaranteed
  128. Hitting out with a halo
  129. Paying farmers not to grow crops will save on subsidies, revenge tariffs, etc
  130. "The Modest Farmer joins us" | "How The Modest Farmer came to be"
  131. Bert Kelly Destroys the Freeloading Justifies Government Argument
  132. Industrial Relations Club shovellers
  133. From Shann to Stone
  134. Government Intervention
    vs
    Government Interference
  135. A sojourn in the real world
  136. The tariff wind swings
  137. Bigger Cake = Bigger Slices
  138. Bert Kelly on the Political Process
  139. A charabanc called protection
  140. Taken for a ride - to nowhere
  141. Down hill, in circles, all the way
  142. Economic facts and figures are statistics who should speak out
  143. Any cons arguing small business bad but big government good?
  144. Relationships with the Liberal Party
  145. Tariffs = High Prices + World War
  146. Bert Kelly's Family History
  147. Bert Kelly's Pre-Parliament Life
  148. What the MP could say to the Bishop
  149. Why Bert Kelly was not even more publicly outspoken
  150. WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
  151. How to stand aside when it's time to be counted
  152. How the Modest Member went back to being a Modest Farmer
  153. My pearls of wisdom were dull beyond belief
  154. Bert Kelly on Political Football
  155. Undigested morsels in Fraser spew
  156. Bert Kelly on LSD
  157. Bert Kelly reflects on the Australian car industry in 1992
  158. Bert Kelly wants reprinted Shann's Economic History of Australia
  159. If tariffs are opposed here then why not there?
  160. The emperor has no textiles, clothing and footwear sense
  161. Ross Gittins Wins Bert Kelly Award
  162. Interesting 1964 Bert Kelly speech: he says he is not a free trader and that he supports protection!
  163. This is the wall the Right built
  164. Tariff Protection in Australia (1970)
  165. Has Santa socked it to car makers?
  166. Is the Budget a cargo cult?
  167. Will we end up subsidising one another?
  168. Keeping the bucket of worms alive
  169. Can we get off the stomach-churning head-spinning tariff merry-go-round?
  170. Do we want our money to fly?
  171. Can a bear be sure of a feed?
  172. How to impress your MP -
    ambush him
  173. The time for being nice to our MPs has gone ...
  174. Don't feel sorry for him -
    hang on to his ear
  175. Trade wars can easily end up on a battlefield
  176. Tariffs Create Unemployment
  177. Bert Kelly recommends Ayn Rand
  178. Bert Kelly on Alf Rattigan's Industry Assistance: The Inside Story
  179. Bert Kelly's Satirical Prophecy: Minister for Meteorology (tick) and High Protectionist Policies to Result in War Yet Again (?)
  180. Bert Kelly in 1972 on Foreign Ownership of Australian Farmland and Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan in 2012
  181. Bert Kelly baits Welfare State Tiger
  182. Why does Govt wear two faces?
  183. Parliament a place for pragmatists
  184. Of Sugar Wells and Think-Tanks
  185. Bert Kelly: "I must take some of the blame"
  186. Bert Kelly on dumping duties
  187. The Govt's helping hand often hurts
  188. Unbuckling the hobbles on the motor industry
  189. A Modest Farmer looks at the Problems of Structural Change
  190. Government Fails Spectacularly
  191. Know your proper place if you want the quiet life
  192. Bert Kelly on political speech writers
  193. Having your cake and eating it
  194. Perish the thawed!
  195. Hooray for Northern Development!
  196. The silly image of our MPs
  197. Bert Kelly Question Time highlights
  198. Modest Farmer sees his ideas take hold
  199. Should facts stand in the way of a good story?
  200. Fondling one another's glass haloes
  201. What is the sense in making the effort to look after yourself?
  202. Fred's Feeling: Counterpatriotic country contrarian
  203. Handouts for big boys only
  204. Mavis trying to buy a hand loom
  205. Bad news for bearers of bad news
  206. Is it time to get aboard the tariff band-waggon?
  207. Why farmers resent tariff protection for motor makers
  208. A sordid use of scare tactics
  209. Goods vs services
  210. Tariffs are hilariously counterproductive
  211. Bert Kelly on decentralisation
  212. Inflation breeds moral decay
  213. Who envies equality?
  214. Growth – malignant or benign?
  215. Government wiser than Magna Carta
  216. Bert Kelly on looking to politicians for moral leadership
  217. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  218. Whitlam & co on the Dismissal
  219. 25% Tariff Cut
  220. Bert Kelly on pensions
  221. Mr Clunies-Ross of the Cocos Islands should rule Australia
  222. They get the wind up when it changes
  223. Why the Big Green Lie survives
  224. Ross McLean in 1982: "Malcolm! Why don't we try good government? It might be popular."
  225. Bert Kelly on the importance of exchange rate movements
  226. Bert Kelly shows how to attack
  227. Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly
  228. Industrial relations dinosaur, Bruce, chews his cud
  229. Hooray for "firmly entrenched"!
  230. Respect your dinosaurs
  231. What if something is "deeply ingrained" yet harmful?
  232. A case for ministerial inertia
  233. Why politicians don't like the truth
  234. Our great open spaces
  235. Ominous dark clouds are gathering
  236. Better to be popular than right
  237. Crying in the wilderness
  238. Ivory tower needs thumping
  239. Bert Kelly asks, "How can you believe in free enterprise and government intervention at the same time?"
  240. Politicians get undeserved praise, why not undeserved blame too?
  241. Feet in a bucket of champagne
  242. Rural Problems
  243. Health cover needs a $30 excess clause
  244. Unholy state of taxation
  245. Boring economics worth a smile
  246. The Libido for the Miserable
  247. Agricultural Development and Tariffs
  248. Fred's too poor to have principles
  249. Eccles Law of the constant wage share
  250. "He whom the gods would destroy ..."
  251. Tariffs: when to wean infant BHP?
  252. Keep any government as far as possible from farming
  253. The Playford charade is out of date
  254. Bert Kelly: the odd man out who's now in
  255. Dries must resist giving up struggle as going gets tough
  256. How a well meaning Government can be so stupid
  257. The icing on the economic cake
  258. Sir Roderick Carnegie's foreword to Bert Kelly's Economics Made Easy
  259. The Vale of Popularity and the Protection Procession
  260. Politics 101: Pay Lip Service to Capitalism and Shoot the Messenger
  261. Bert Kelly makes politicians eat their own words on tariffs, then says, "We cannot be blamed for treating the statements of our statesmen with cynical contempt"
  262. Bert Kelly on Free Enterprise
  263. Cartoons of protected industry, the welfare teat and the nanny state
  264. Bert Kelly on the theory of constant shares and the Fabian Society
  265. Bert Kelly vs Doug Anthony
  266. You're lucky if you escape being helped by government
  267. Bert Kelly on Small Farmers
  268. Bert Kelly on Apathy
  269. Bert Kelly in 1967 on "problems of government and things like that"
  270. The last "Dave's Diary"
  271. Bert Kelly vs The Australian on tariffs in 1977
  272. Bounties or Tariffs, Someone Pays
  273. Geriatric companies without a minder
  274. A free marketeer wary of free trade
  275. Nixon's puzzling profession of faith
  276. "Ford ... seems to spend more time bending its knees than its back"
  277. Clyde Cameron's weak ways with wise words
  278. Why flaunt what others flout?
  279. Bert Kelly yearns for Tim Flannery's powers of prediction
  280. Looking after yourself is silly
  281. Bert Kelly masterpiece on drought, fire, flood and other natural disaster relief schemes
  282. Government can take credit for our car industry mess
  283. Car makers want the 4wd driven deeper into tariff bog
  284. Why our MP is no longer prone to a good sob story
  285. Auto industry is in a straitjacket
  286. Bert Kelly on market predictions
  287. Why should dryland farmers subsidise irrigation farmers?
  288. How much should government decrease incentive for independence from government?
  289. Clarkson crowned Deputy Government Whip
  290. Bert Kelly to blame for soaring government healthcare costs
  291. 1959 return of Dave's Diary
  292. Bert Kelly in 1966 on developing northern Australia
  293. Successful government intervention can [sic] occur
  294. Vernon Report upholds Clarkson
  295. Quiet Man Makes An Impact
  296. Should it be compulsory to buy footwear and clothing?
  297. To save Australian clothing industry women must all wear same uniform
  298. Don't confuse plucking heart strings with plucking harp strings
  299. Speech only for public
  300. Catchy Tariff Circus Extravaganza
  301. Bert Kelly in 1985 on cars yet again
  302. Hurrah for the Gang of Five
  303. Thoughts on a verse about Balfour
  304. Bert Kelly pep talk to politicians
  305. Government intervention = Agony postponed but death brought nearer
  306. Recipe for disaster: Freeze!
  307. Recipe for government intervention: Gather winners and scatter losers
  308. Recipe for industry destruction: Blanket market signals
  309. Mavis writes!
  310. Bert Kelly's empiricism is not kneejerk reaction kind
  311. The $2,000 song of the shirt worker
  312. Subsiding only small farmers means subsiding the big banks
  313. Difficult to be fast on your feet when you've got your ear to the ground
  314. It would surprise people to see how sensible MPs behave if they think they are not being watched
  315. Bert Kelly on "this land of limitless resources" and "great open spaces"
  316. Growing bananas at the South Pole
  317. Car components tariff protection under fire
  318. Why carry a $300m car subsidy?
  319. Tariff feather beds for the foreign giants
  320. Bert Kelly says end compulsory voting to stop donkey vote
  321. Perhaps being smart and insured isn't all luck
  322. You gets your tariff, you pays a price
  323. More funds to train Olympians?
  324. Fire in their guts and wind in ours
  325. Should free universal healthcare include pets?
  326. Sound advice from a modest farmer
  327. A tottering monument to intervention
  328. Cunning meets wisdom
  329. Competition, Aussie-style: Who's the bigger parasite?
  330. Australians are proud patriotic parasites, says Bert Kelly
  331. Taxpayer-funded sport is cheating
  332. Being loved by all is not always a good thing
  333. Welfare State Destroys Society
  334. 1980 Bert Kelly feather bed series
  335. The White Mice Marketing Board
  336. Government intervention and advice can be harmful, even when right, even for those it tries to help
  337. One small step on the compulsory voting landmine
  338. The free & compulsory education sacred cows have no clothes
  339. Holding a loaded wallet to an economist's head
  340. Political No Man's Land
  341. Only blind greed demands both equality and prosperity
  342. A cow that sucks itself — that's us!
Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5