27 Sep 2011

Kedgley fires parting shots to an 'old boys' club'

10:33 pm on 27 September 2011

Outgoing Green Party MP Sue Kedgley has called for a major reform of Parliament's rules, describing the institution as an old boys' club out of step with the rest of the world.

Ms Kedgley entered Parliament in 1999 will retire at the election in November.

In her valedictory speech on Tuesday, she told MPs that parliamentary democracy, like everything, needs constant review.

"We live in a time of rapid change, yet our Parliament is a 19th century institution bound by rules and conventions and it still operates quite a lot of the time like an old boys' club.

"I believe a major overhaul is needed to the way Parliament works to make it less remote, more relevant, and accessible to ordinary New


Ms Kedgley also had some strong words about the behaviour of many MPs, saying she despairs about the confrontational way they do business.

"Much of the time it's trench warfare in here. MPs gather for Question Time as if for a military confrontation. The aim is to do battle to defeat the enemy on the other side - not to debate or listen.

"The heavy-hitters, the point-scorers, the alpha males lead the charge and hurl abuse at the other side. And so Question Time, which ought to be the showcase of our democracy, routinely degenerates into a pointless scoring match."

The MP has been a consistent campaigner for animal rights and recalled the lengths she went to highlight the plight of pigs in sow stalls.

"I climbed into a sow stall to demonstrate how cruel it was - and was ridiculed for doing so. So it's gratifying that a decade later the Government has finally agreed to get rid of sow crates."

Sue Kedgley also criticised the media for being more interested in scandals and the trivia of politics than reporting on basic issues and policies and received a standing ovation and lengthy applause from all sides of the House.