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Creating disorder: The effect of impending elections on Question Time in two Houses of Representatives

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This paper investigates the effect of an upcoming election on disorderly behaviour in two Houses of Representatives: that of the Australian Federal Parliament and that of the New Zealand Parliament. Two hypotheses are tested. The first hypothesis is that, notwithstanding their common origins in the Westminster parliamentary tradition, there are significant genrelectal differences in the way the two Houses respond to the impending election. The second hypothesis is that both will respond by becoming increasingly disorderly. The locus for measuring disorderly conduct is taken from the Wednesday parliamentary Question Time for the year 2007 in the case of Australia and 2008 in the case of New Zealand. All instances of disorderly conduct were tracked and a month-by-month measure was made of each kind of disorder as indicated by Standing Orders. All responses of the Speaker to disorder were also logged. The research shows that both hypotheses are corroborated.
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Keywords: Parliament; Question Time; discourse community; disorder; elections; genrelect; unparliamentary language

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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