Friday, 13 February 2009

The purpose of the Senate

Senator Nick Xenophon has caused an uproar by refusing to vote for the government's economic stimulus package, at least as of yesterday. There may well be some horse-trading today that will get it through. He wants money for the Murray brought foward and more money spent on the Murray as well. It sounds laudable but it is likely to make him unpopular enough to lose his seat at the next election.
In all this Australians seem to have lost sight of the original purpose of the Senate. It was supposed to represent the states, senators were supposed to represent the states. These days it is about party-politics. Nevertheless it is a house of review and all governments need a house of review. It saves them from what could become a dictatorship - and Rudd would like a dictatorship.
Mr X could have done everyone a real favour however. It may remind some of the need to work with the Senate, not against it. The government is refusing to listen to Opposition concerns that the stimulus package is too large. It is too large. It will not fix the underlying problems, especially those of restrictions on employment. Work Choices may have been unpopular but it was made unpopular by an unrepresentative union movement determined to hang on to the many 'rights' it has gained at the expense of job creation over the years. It is simply too expensive to employ people, employers cannot take the risk. They move off-shore and we all lose.

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