Parliament at War: Partisan Conflict During Periods of National Crisis

Stream: Panel 44 - Public Policy & Social Justice: The Practice of Policymaking
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


This paper examines how periods of national crisis influence the partisan conflict of parliamentary discourse. Consistent with the maxim that ‘threats from outside the system promote cohesion within the system’, this paper argues that periods of national crisis prompt a significant diminution of partisan conflict. Analysing the Australian Federal Parliament, partisan conflict is dually operationalised by House of Representatives voting divisions and a media content analysis of The Sydney Morning Herald. Both voting divisions and media analysis support the conclusion that a robust inverse relationship exists between national crises and partisan conflict. It is concluded that this relationship reflects a positive capacity for bipartisanship when the situation requires.


Harrison Miller (Presenter), Australian National University
Harrison Miller is a research student in the ANU’s School of Politics and International Relations. His forthcoming dissertation examines Question Time in the Australian House of Representatives and is expected to be completed in early 2019. The paper Harrison will be presenting is a reworking of his Honours dissertation, Parliament at War, which was awarded the ANU's L.F. Crisp Memorial Prize for Political Science.