Bi-partisanship refers to an agreement between government and opposition parties on an issue, so that there is no conflict voiced by members of the government or opposition parties in the parliament. In the past immigration was a bi-partisan issue, as was the question of race. Both parties agreed not to try to make political capital out of these two issues.
One example of bi-partisanship is the current agreement on mandatory detention of people who arrive in Australia without permits to enter or visas. This approach was introduced by the Labor Party in 1992, and supported then by the Coalition. The Coalition has extended this policy, with Labor Party support.
Bi-partisanship can be hot because, while governments claim bi-partisan policies represent the views of the vast majority of Australians, people who are opposed to those policies often claim that it is a form of political correctness which discourages the expression of counter views.
The expression of these counter views then falls to people outside the mainstream of political life.
10 March 2002