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The Forum > Article Comments > Westminster system's problems > Comments

Westminster system's problems : Comments

By Klaas Woldring, published 27/2/2012

The Westminster system has design faults that lead to Labor's current leadership problems

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I agree fully Klaas. But what would really be achieved if we did have selection of ministers from the entire population on the basis of merit?

Wed still have another overwhelming flaw with the Westminster system, and apparently with all democratic (or more correctly; pseudodemocratic) systems of government, which would render such a change impotent. This is the enormous bias towards big business and continuous-growth economics.

The sector that makes the big money and pays the big donations and generally does all manner of favours for the decision-makers wins the day, not the average voter!

This is now of critical importance, as we have the profit-driven power base pushing for ever more expansion, in a never-ending growth spiral, which is totally inconsistent with a sustainable future, at a time that we desperately need to embrace a regime of sustainability.

I wonder Klaas if you have any ideas about how we might get around this critical problem.
Posted by Ludwig, Monday, 27 February 2012 8:28:49 AM
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I don't think so, Mr Woldring.

"Could [the choice of Minister being limited to the MPs of the Governing Party] be a major factor why politicians enjoy such low esteem in Australia? Surely, it must be at least a major contributing factor."

You seem to have made the assumption that the Minister in charge of a particular portfolio needs to have a strong background in that specific area in order to be effective. I disagree.

MPs are there to represent the people who have elected them, Ministers as well as backbenchers. The job of a Minister, therefore, should be first and foremost to look at policy through the eyes of the constituent, not through the eyes of a specialist, or an expert in the field - that's what the army of Public Servants is for.

More important would be the process through which these "matter-experts" might be selected. Would you choose the Minister of Finance from the Banking system, for example, or the Minister for Resources and Energy from the Mining fraternity? Ministers are called upon to make tough decisions sometimes, and should not carry the baggage of an industry insider. Think of the Defence Department; would you be comfortable that a Brigadier-General would make balanced decisions on the composition of, and financial support for, our armed forces?

I somehow doubt it.

There is no doubt that our political system is in dire need of some form of overhaul in this post-democratic age of ours. But rather than pick on some of its less significant issues, why don't we begin with something really, really simple.

We make parliamentarians fully responsible for the electoral commitments they make.

It can be done. And it can be done without throwing out the existing mechanics of parliamentary life, which would take literally decades to shift.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 27 February 2012 8:51:46 AM
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With all of Abbotts pledges in blood is he talking for himself or for his party.
It is a frightening scenario. To think such could happen.
Big business buying privileges is a tragic thought, no doubt it does go on.
Posted by 579, Monday, 27 February 2012 9:02:25 AM
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The Westminster system is not perfect but it is better than whatever
system is in second place.

One big advantage is at question time ministers can be forced to
answer unwanted questions.

Look at what has happened in Italy and Greece, they just brought the
receivers in and made them Prime Minister !

How about Rupert Murdock as a minister ?
Posted by Bazz, Monday, 27 February 2012 9:04:53 AM
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Let's not forget that the first split in the Labor Party was on this issue - representation Vs caucus loyalty, in 1893. This was part of a transition from Westminster - to perfidy, where we are now - with ineffectual representation systems.

Woe.
Posted by Frederic Marshall, Monday, 27 February 2012 10:09:52 AM
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Although there is some merit in Dr Woldring arguments, I think the Westminster system has stacked up tolerably well when compared to the performance of its main rival, presidential-style systems.

The idea of selecting minister from outside the Parliament has been kicked around for some time but nothing will ever come out of it. The allocation of ministerial posts is, after all, one of the ways prime ministers reward followers or penalise others. To gain a ministry is one way for an aspiring MP to gain notice..

In any case, as other posters have pointed out, the ministers are there to represent the interests of the electorate and not the sector concerned, which is what would happen should a well-qualified outsider was appointed.

Time for Dr Woldring to find another cause..
Posted by Curmudgeon, Monday, 27 February 2012 10:38:39 AM
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