MPs ‘work’ less than academics

Okay – so I was reading through the That’s it, you’re out report that got a write up in The Australian.

Makes for interesting reading with lots of tables and the like. I’ll get around to writing that up over the next few days but one table jumped out at me.

Table 16: Number and percentage of sitting weeks in which members were disciplined 1990–2013

Year No. of sitting weeks No. (%) of weeks in which members were disciplined
1990 12 3 (25.0)
1991 21 3 (14.3)
1992 19 10 (52.6)
1993 14 4 (28.6)
1994 18 5 (27.8)
1995 18 9 (50.0)
1996 16 9 (56.3)
1997 20 18 (90.0)
1998 15 11 (73.3)
1999 19 16 (84.2)
2000 19 15 (78.9)
2001 15 13 (86.7)
2002 18 13 (72.2)
2003 20 15 (75.0)
2004 16 12 (75.0)
2005 18 17 (94.4)
2006 18 15 (83.3)
2007 14 13 (92.9)
2008 18 16 (88.9)
2009 19 15 (78.9)
2010 16 15 (93.8)
2011 18 16 (88.9)
2012 17 17 (100.0)
2013 (to August) 9 9 (100.0)
Total 407 289 (71.0)

The academic year is 26 weeks plus exam periods and then summer school and offshore teaching and the like.

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37 Responses to MPs ‘work’ less than academics

  1. Wait. You guys win because they work less than 26 weeks?

    I want your job!

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Abu – on a salary/weeks worked they win.

  3. Milton Von Smith

    Not sure what your point is Sinc. I think politicians could do far less damage if they sat for fewer weeks, not more.

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    Milton – that depends. The weeks they sit is an input. Its the output that annoys so much. They could sit for 52 weeks abolishing legislation.

  5. ar

    Pay them like company directors and encourage the bums to hold full time jobs.

  6. JJP

    Sinc, this is just sophistry.

    MPs work when they’re not sitting. You’re inferring that MPs only work when they are in Parliament – I’d argue that the most value that MPs provide is when they are not in Canberra.

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    JJP – see my comment to Milton above.

  8. JJP

    I think that’s an unfair assessment of the work of MPs. The work they do extends beyond the chambers of Parliament – just like the work that academics do extends beyond the teaching sessions.

  9. ChrisPer

    Everyone beat me to the punch so I will just add a quote:

    No man’s Life, Liberty or Property is safe while he legislature is in session.

    Its Mark Twain of course, but if I capitalise archaiically, maybe it will turn into Jefferson or Paine.

  10. Cool Head

    Fewer weeks these morons sit the more free we remain. Politicians of all colours solely expend effort restricting our freedoms.

  11. Sinc, I’m sure your average academic does work harder than many MPs. But neither comes out looking well in the above comparison, when viewed from the perspective of the rest of us.


  12. entropy

    Everyone thinks they work harder than others. Even academics it seems.
    I am sure there must be an MP of some slum borough that never worked a lick all day, but many would be expected to turn up at every fete, school awards night, chook raffle and tea party, and put up with Mavis and her lost cat every second Thursday.

  13. Sinclair Davidson

    The work they do extends beyond the chambers of Parliament …

    Actually, no. It doesn’t. True, they have expanded their roles; but representing their constituents in the Parliament is their entire job. Everything else is make work.

  14. Pat Warnock

    Yes entropy, electoral work is full on if the member responds to every call on their time. There can be members like our last one who seem to disappear – even in parliament – but most do a full time job attending every sort of function. Academics win the trophy for doing less actual work than other professions.

  15. Sinclair Davidson

    Don’t be silly entropy – I don’t think academics work hard at all.

  16. srr

    So, at 100% of sitting weeks, shutting up representatives of the people, is that Mistress of Discipline, Anna Burke, now officially, Trashy Madame Lash?

    …and what is it about women, that “being first”, is so important to them, that they worship women like Burke, Bryce, Gillard and Ann Summers, as “great Firsties” to follow blindly?

  17. Rabz

    They could sit for 52 weeks abolishing legislation.

    Great. In some bizarre parallel universe, they probably do.

    And the people rejoiced.

  18. Leo G

    More discipline for each MP? Let’s see a Parliamentary pillory. Yes siree! that works for me.

  19. kae

    It would take longer than 52 weeks.

  20. Rabz

    More discipline for each MP? Let’s see a Parliamentary pillory.

    The Musselman would be head of the queue.

  21. John Mc

    Surely that’s an argument why pollies don’t need to be paid more, and probably should be paid less.

  22. blind freddy

    Would you put your future , on the capricious electorate , every 3 years!!

  23. jumpnmcar

    I would be happy to see some academics ejected from the country for 1 year under 94a * for making shit up and milking their perceive status as ” betters ” to feather their bank accounts .
    (* these are my personally concocted Standing Orders )

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    Freddy – thats the life they choose.

  25. Andrew

    But Blabbersac had to give up her entire ANZAC long weekend to travel to Norfolk just to service 200 of her constituents! They are the hardest workers in the country.

  26. Token

    Would you put your future , on the capricious electorate , every 3 years!!

    Many people work harder for a whole lot less. That “argument” was tired years ago.

  27. wreckage

    just to service 200 of her constituents! They are the hardest workers in the country.

    Crikey. That’s quite an effort. Shows real stamina. 200 you say? COuld well be one of the hardest workers in the country.

  28. Matt

    You’re lucky with 26 teaching weeks Sinclair. At Melbourne Uni, with the graduate entry model, our graduate school moved to a 32 week teaching year for the first 3 years of the course, and 38 weeks for the 4th year, and with exam marking and administration at mid- and end-of-year, we were lucky to have any time to do anything else!

  29. Sinclair Davidson

    Matt – yes. I should have been clearer. The On-shore academic year consists of 26 teaching weeks. Then there is summer school that runs for post-graduate students only. Then there is Singapore teaching that runs for us over January-February and June-July. Add to that the coordination of our VietNam campus and it works out that we are teaching or coordinating or examining and marking for 50 weeks out of 52 in the year. To be sure I don’t teach in the classroom for 50 weeks and few do. Most of my teaching responsibility is taken up with PhD supervision and that goes for 48 weeks in the year.

  30. brinkin

    Late start compensated by an early finish does not make a days work Sinclair.

  31. Grey Old Dufus

    Then there is summer school that runs for post-graduate students only.

    Your Summer School, perhaps, not all.

  32. Sinclair Davidson

    Grey Old Dufus – comparing experiences not generalising to all uni’s.

    brinkin – you’re just jealous. :)

  33. Aus_Autarch

    I like Sinc’s point about the expanded role that politicians have created for themselves outside of their sitting obligations in parliamkent/senate.

    I think it would be a great improvement in the regulatory culture of Australia if it was recognised that all politicians have a dual role :
    1) that which they are elected to do, and
    2) that which they do to get elected.

    Too much of the difficulties which beset our system of governance are because of the blurring of these roles – the claims scandals, the branch stacking, the offensive/simplistic advertising. As soon as the second role is no longer part of the support package of politicians, many of the worst behaviours of politicians will be curtailed.

    To paraphrase RAH (tMiaHM): Politicians should pay for their own dirty habits…

  34. sabrina

    Sinclair – how many PhD students do you have at the moment and how frequently do you meet them? How frequently do they produce material for you to check?
    I presume as part of your profession you also have administrative work and presentation at conferences or similar?

  35. Sinclair Davidson

    At the moment I have seven PhD students. Two nearing completion, two just to confirm and three in midstream. For that I get just 7 hours per week on my work plan. I use one of two models depending on how the student is progressing. If they’re making good progress then we work at their pace. So one student (yes, you) has given me 40,000 words that I’ll be reading over the next few days. This is first he has given me to read although we have had many conversations. Students who are not making good progress have to come see me for an hour every week and discuss what they have done in the week. If they have done nothing they still have to come and sit with me for an hour.

    So for good students my input is lumpy and it all depends on them. For not-so-good students my input is more steady.

  36. sabrina

    Thanks Sinclair. I guess for every hour that you devote to the students, there are several hours of background work at high intellectual level. That 40,000 word chapter(s) surely will take hours to check not only for factual correctness, but for consistency and structure relative what is to follow, perhaps.

    I think often the workload of university academics is underestimated. Overall it is not a 9-5 job, and not something that you may leave at work when you come home. Keep up the good work, and thanks for the candid response.

  37. Sinclair Davidson

    It’s not a 9 – 5 job but it also isn’t overly burdensome either.

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