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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

there's evil in that big place on the hill « Previous | |Next »
December 9, 2003

By all accounts this article by Greg Barnes is pretty accurate in terms of its descriptions of the working environment of Federal Parliament. Barnes says:

"Parliament House is a brutal and unrelenting work environment. It warps people's judgement. Issues and information that bear little or no consequence to reality suddenly become important. The media, staff members and politicians feed off this poisonous atmosphere in a building that contains some fine art and architecture but no soul and no warmth.

To expect people to work 16-hour days day in and day out in such a place is unfair and downright cruel. And to expect them to do it in a city such as Canberra, where there are few support networks, little sense of community and no capacity to escape, means that the mental health of those who work in the House is put under such intense pressure that drugs, alcohol, sex and workaholism often come to be seen as the only means for survival."

This political hothouse is a place for those young singles who love the nomadic, homeless existence and find the throb of political power orgasmic. It is hell on relationships and families, as you can well imagine. You survive by leaving.

Barnes describes the way the atmosphere of Parliament is determined by the nature of politics as an existential conflict between friend and foe:

"The game of politics as it is played in Australia is needlessly cruel and primitive. People's foibles, misjudgements and handicaps are not the subject of empathy or sympathy but of derision....Perhaps most importantly, it is virtually impossible for MPs and staff members to find a shoulder to cry on, to talk frankly to someone else simply as one vulnerable human being to another."

All of this is well known. The stories I've heard suggest that Old Parliament House had a more collegial atmosphere. By contrast the new building has an:

" environment that takes no prisoners, that refuses to change its work hours to make them less stressful and, above all, that has no regard for the mental health of individuals who are often fragile but ambitious and narcissistic by disposition, in any event."

Senator Brian Harradine had it right. It is a place with evil in it. There is an intensity of experience there that is brutally destructive. You end up in paranoic snarling mode that cannot be controlled.

Tim Blair and his cohort of callous readers can only mock those staffers who suffer from the brutal work conditions. Mocking the misfortune of others is called humour by these mediocre snivellers, who are so envious of their masters for their rank, nobility and breeding.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:37 AM | | Comments (3)


I do think that Mr Blair might have got on your goat on this occasion. I do have to say though that I think sympathy is wasted- after all, it's not exactly like you conscript people to be politicians, staffers and the like. It's the old saying- if you can't stand the heat....

Scott your work conditions are far better than those of the staffers.

For instance, you do not work 16 hour days as standard. You do 8 plus overtime in the same town.

It's a amtter of occupation health and safety.

No I don't work 16 hours a day as standard. That's why I don't apply to be a political staffer.