This is from the final paragraph of a post from Paul Wells on the ongoing F-35 debacle:
There should be a designated full-time devil's advocate in the PMO, somebody the prime minister trusts a lot and fears a little. The person should argue, every day, that the government might be wrong. We used to have a civil service to do that, but those days are gone.
It seems to me we used to have an Official Opposition to do that and its formal title included the word "loyal" for a reason. But here's one of the ways in which our parliamentary system has become debased: the acceptance of the government's routine accusation that opposition politicians don't just disagree but are actually working against the interests of the country.
Remember "Taliban Jack"? Editorial boards across the country, regardless of political ideology, should have been up in arms at the implication that it was treasonous to disagree with the government's position. As I recall, the outrage was actually pretty muted where it was voiced at all and so it became that much more acceptable to recycle the tactic.
Wells just described the opposition's primary function quite succinctly: to argue, every day, that the government might be wrong. It's an honorable occupation and a necessary function and both the government and the opposition members, along with everyone else, would do well to remember it.