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so it’s come to this…

16 November, 2008
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Little would we have imagined, huddled around a laptop in the Reid Cafe at UWA, that the debate about daylight savings in WA would lead to a blog quoting the amusing, the weird, and sometimes the wonderful, from state governments around Australia. Not only that, but somehow, despite changes of state from various contributors to the blog, it would still be running two years later. Admittedly we were a little quiet earlier this year through the various moves, study, and WordPress security flaws (and, well, I’ve been making the bulk of the posts for a while now).

I missed the first anniversary of Houses and Motions, so here’s a retrospective for anyone interested in how this thing works and, well, just why we’ve been doing it. In doing so, links to various favourites and things that might have been missed will be featured.

So, two years ago, and on the other side of the country to where I’m typing this now, a group of us were gathered in the Reid Cafe, discussing many subjects, whose brow height varied quite drastically, and generally avoiding exam preparation or work on theses. At some point, the conversation turned to the possible introduction of daylight savings and the arguments surrounding it, mainly involving confused cows and faded curtains. Such a topic prompted a visit to the WA State Parliament website and a search of Hansard for the daylight savings debates. The search for confused cows and faded curtains provided some amusement, but the best was to come: scrolling through the debate, we found a lengthy, formatted section following some kind of rhyming pattern. I Love A Sunburn Daily was its title, and its author was a strange man by the name of Grant Woodhams. A few more readings of daylight savings-related talk followed, before we found the catalyst for Houses and Motions: the forerunner to I Love A Sunburn Daily, Woodhams’ epic Budget Pie. I went home that day determined not to give into temptation and make a Hansard-quoting blog. Within 24 hours, I had emphatically failed at that endeavour.

We started off with a standard blogger-template blog, mainly because I was using that platform at the time and set it all up rather quickly. At the start, the three of us, Cameron and Trent as well as me, were posting regularly, saving our Woodhams magic so that it wasn’t a songfest but also highlighted the snappy one-liners and banter that occasionally grace the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council (plus, we had to save up our Greenough-related puns. Although the electorate has now been integrated into surrounding ones, the puns will continue – Woodhams is now the member for Moore…).

The first post concerned camels, although we quickly got onto the daylight savings discussion – indeed, a lot of our early material came from one debate, that of 31 October 2006 (not always discussing faded curtains, of course). Other entries came from the simple joy of putting silly words, phrases, and names into the Hansard search and seeing what came up: some were obvious, such as ‘Warnie‘, but just how Trent found this is beyond me (well, unless it involved ‘cake’ or ‘mud cake’).

For two and a half months, we kept up a strike rate of a post a day, sometimes having a backlog covering a week or two of material. Of course, at some point towards the end of January 2007 I realised I should probably finish my Honours thesis, and, coupled with the summertime absence of fresh parliamentary gossip, the posts dropped off. In April, we moved house to a new domain, housesandmotions.org (and hansardblog.org), running a flavour of WordPress, although posts remained intermittent. The disturbing side of politics was still on show, though, and new government initiatives and rather irreverent comments were also welcome.

May 2007 was a rather exciting time, although that is from the rather nerdy perspective of it being budget time, and thus the new Woodhams exclusive, the Budgeterata. However, while at times Houses and Motions may overly promote the filibuster, provided there’s some (attempt at) humour, we try to include the shorter work too, and regardless of personal beliefs, our intent is not to comment on the successes, failures, and general awesomeness or not of Labor, the Liberals, the Nationals, the Greens, or anyone else. Hansard references are provided for context, if you want it – quoting may be easier than commentary, but we still want to be quoting accurately (besides, after many years at uni, we’re used to citing everything).

This year, though, we’ve become somewhat slack, through being, at various times, in WA, Queensland, WA, Victoria, WA, and, well, somewhere in between those states, and the wonders of WordPress security flaws. Eventually, I gave in, we transferred the posts to a wordpress.com blog, and started it all off again. Depending on parliamentary activity in the respective states, I’ve been posting both Queensland and WA material, with the slightly disturbing finding that the most prominent MP (and probably interjector) in both WA and Queensland is called Johnson.

And that, pretty much, is the foundation for Houses and Motions, after two years and 170 odd (sometimes very odd) posts. With summer awaiting, I might go back to the 2006 method of putting strange terms into the search option and seeing what comes up. Or we might be on some kind of hiatus again, I’m not sure. Regardless of any increase or lull in activity, these houses won’t be going anywhere else anytime soon…

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