How many politicians does it take to fix a lightbulb? None, they're not allowed to
POLITICIANS reckon they and their staff are quite capable of climbing a ladder to replace a blown lightbulb. But occupational health and safety requirements say that should be left to a qualified electrician.
The issue surfaced during a Senate estimates hearing when Liberal Eric Abetz told upper house colleagues he was prevented recently from changing a lightbulb in his electorate office. He was told that the rules meant an electrician had to be called.
"It is just impractical, it's stupid," Senator Abetz told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday. "Most Australians would say if a person is not capable of changing a light globe, chances are they are not capable of running an electorate office."
Senator Abetz said he had been told changing a bulb could require climbing a ladder which was a safety risk.
Australians managed to change bulbs in their own homes every day of the week without getting electrocuted. "It's bureaucracy gone mad, it's a waste of money and the minister should intervene to stop it," he said.
Nationals senator Fiona Nash said she was quite capable of changing a lightbulb. "I would certainly be able to get up a ladder as a farm girl and change a light globe," she said.
But Labor senator Doug Cameron [a union diehard of Scottish origin] was more cautious. "I have never even thought about changing a lightbulb in my office," he said. "If someone ended up being electrocuted with a faulty wire, then you wouldn't be asking these questions."
Independent MP Bob Katter said it was a story for the times. "PJ O'Rourke said `the safety Nazis are going to get us' and they really have," he told.
Opposition frontbencher Ian Macfarlane suggested changing a lightbulb was something for which he did not necessarily seek bureaucratic confirmation. "As the old saying goes, don't seek permission, seek forgiveness," he said.
Liberal senator Simon Birmingham said he may have changed lightbulbs in his office in contravention of the rules. "I didn't realise were an enormous breach of any type of laws," he said, adding a bit of common sense had to apply.