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Dorothy Dixer

A “Dorothy Dixer” is a planted or pre-arranged question asked of a government minister by a backbencher of his or her own political party during Parliamentary Question Time.

The term refers to American advice columnist Dorothy Dix’s reputed practice of making up her own questions to allow her to publish more interesting answers.

The term has been used in Australian politics since the 1950s, and has become increasingly common in everyday usage, but interestingly is virtually unknown in other countries where Dix’s advice column was equally popular.

Use of “Dorothy Dixer” in a sentence

  • During the parliamentary session, a series of Dorothy Dixers were posed to the Minister, enabling her to eloquently elaborate on the achievements of her department to the assembled lawmakers.
  • Critics argue that the use of Dorothy Dixers can sometimes stifle genuine scrutiny and debate in legislative bodies, as they often serve as scripted softballs rather than challenging inquiries.
  • The opposition leader was quick to point out the Dorothy Dixer that had been staged to deflect attention from the pressing issues of the day, calling for a more authentic discussion on the floor.