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The Forum > Article Comments > A Government frustrated > Comments

A Government frustrated : Comments

By Klaas Woldring, published 6/4/2009

The power of the Senate has thwarted both representative democracy and efficient government in Australia.

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Mandate? Reform? Both words are overused and misapplied. We have a modified two party system, and the Australian people made the wise judgement that it is time for a change as Howard is past it and the Coalition has run out of puff. The Rudd government must justify its proposed changes to parliament and the people of Australia. The only mandate it has is the opportunity to present those proposed changes to parliament and the people of Australia as the elected government.

Reform used to mean the improvement of the existing system. Now politicians apply the word to any proposed changes. Since the meaning of words changes through usage reform may or may not mean improvement.

I would like to see the house become a genuinely representative body. That means to me, that parliamentarians, except for specific issues in their party platforms on which they ran, would be free to put the wishes of their constituents ahead of the wishes of the party room. They should also be free to consider the promptings of their conscience and their view of the good of Australia ahead of the wishes of the party room.

As the house of review I think the Senate is a marvellous body. It has the capacity to block legislation because viewpoints overlooked by the major parties are there. That, to my way of thinking, is exactly as things should be. The government may be frustrated, but that may simply be the consequence of democracy.
Posted by david f, Monday, 6 April 2009 10:54:02 AM
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Since the powers of the States have largely been assumed by the Commonwealth, the Senate no longer operates as a forum for State review as the Constitution intends.

The States cannot legitimately review powers they don't have.

Maintaining the Senate in its present form contavenes the intention of the Constitution.

The opportunity is available to achieve equitable governance with a constitutional amendement to enact law by agreement between a women's Senate and a men's House of Representatives.

Election to these legislatures would conform with whatever electoral process is agreed to by a women's caucus and a men's caucus at a constitution convention.
Posted by whistler, Monday, 6 April 2009 11:00:31 AM
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Suspect the idea of creating five new states has more merit in terms of widening representation.

Which five new states ?

Newcastle-Sydney-Woolongong
Geelong-Melbourne
Adelaide
Perth
Brisbane-GoldCoast

.
Posted by polpak, Monday, 6 April 2009 11:23:49 AM
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Where was Klaas Woldring when the Senate was frustrating the Howard Government?
The Senate is part of our system of government, so get used to it.
DIS
Posted by DIS, Monday, 6 April 2009 1:37:04 PM
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Yes DIS, he's about 10 years late with this lot.

Then he has the hide to suggest we should listen to the suggestions of senator Faulkner. WOW! Faulkner was the Hindmarsh Island man, who, in an effort to keep his aboriginal vote happy, suggested we should accept a sealed envelope, full of lies, as true evidence, in a court of law.

These academics have a hide, don't they?

And as if that's not enough, he wants to slip proportional representation in through a side door. Then we could have nation wide, the rubish they have in Tasmania.

We may even achieve the same government stability they do in Italy.

What we need is an electrol system that allows us to get rid of these academic parasites off our payrol, & into gainfull employment. This bloke, from the aptitude displayed here, & the lack of any interest in morals, may just be able to handle shopping trolley collection, at a smaller super market.
Posted by Hasbeen, Monday, 6 April 2009 3:20:14 PM
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This is a confused discussion. The author points out that Steve Fielding was elected with 1.8 per cent of the vote, but does not mention that Stephen Conroy, Julian McGauran and Judith Troeth each started on less than 0.1 per cent of the vote. Senator Fielding, like they and every other state senator, had to gain a quota of 14.3 per cent before being elected. That he did it on preferences, just as they did, is neither here nor there. The Laborís preference deal with Family First was no blunder. It would have given Labor three senators if Laborís vote had not collapsed. It was well publicised before the 2004 election. Voters who do not approve of the preference deals that their parties do are free to vote below the line, something I always do. A party list system is even less democratic and less transparent than STV with provision for ATL voting as it prevents voters choosing any individuals but leaves the choice entirely to the party machines.

The six-year term for senators is a boon for democracy as it evens out temporary enthusiasms. The distortion in numbers of voters between the states is not a problem as the states are close to mirrors of each other in how they allocate their votes.

If the Senate becomes too difficult for the government, it has the option of a double dissolution, an option John Howard never took despite his complaints about the Senate supposedly frustrating his mandate. After all, because of STV, the Senate is in fact more representative of the way people vote than the House.
Posted by Chris C, Monday, 6 April 2009 6:28:20 PM
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