Thursday, 5 August 2010

There was a column in the paper

this morning which indicated that some journalists need to be much better educated about the way we are governed.
We have two houses in the parliament in Canberra. One is the House of Representatives. Our local members sit there. It is their role to represent the electorate. They generally belong to a political party and the party with the most 'seats' is the one that governs the country. Most people seem to understand that.
There is also the Senate. The Senate is supposed to be the House which represents the interests of the States and it is also the house of review. It needs an overhaul but we need it. The Senate is not an option, particularly in a country the geographical size of Australia.
The problem with the Senate is that it has ceased to be a House which represents the states. It represents political parties rather than the states. It is now constructed in such a way that minority interests can overrule majority interests. The Greens could easily have the balance of power after the next election. That means that a party with a very low proportion of votes could be the most powerful political voice in the country. That is hardly democratic.
Some people say that is an argument to be rid of the Senate altogether but the reality is that the Senate is the safety valve on the pressure cooker of politics. Despite being divided along party lines the members do represent a wider electorate.
Voting rules in the Senate need to change so that senators vote along state lines not party lines. This was the original intention of the Senate.
It would not be a popular move with the major parties and would be even less popular with the minor parties who now wield excessive power. It is also precisely why it should be done.

6 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

"There was a column in the paper"
Where did it go?

Sorry, sensible head now on (blame the chocolate)...

I'm sure if we sent the Mayor of the North Shore over to sort out the Senate it would improve things vastly...we'd be shut of him!

Oh, that wasn;t sensible, either...


erm...who can decide the function of the Senate?

Rachel Fenton said...

For some reason I'm in a bad habit of whacking the semi-colon instead of the apostrophe...

catdownunder said...

The function of the Senate is set out in the Constitution. If we wanted to change it then it would have to go to a referendum - and then be voted for by a majority of people in a majority of the states. It is difficult to change. The problem is that the Constitution already states that the Senate is the States' house but it is divided along party lines and not state lines as intended by the founding fathers.

Rachel Fenton said...

If the function is set out in the constitution and it stated (pardon the pun) state lines - and it is now party lines - surely this needs only to be pointed out? Surely what goes int he constitution is what must be followed?

Or were the founding fathers' intentions not stated in the constitution - forgive my woeful Aussie history!

Donna Hosie said...

Most political structure in most countries now goes along party lines.

Individuals become blinded by the power they hold.

catdownunder said...

It is not unconstitutional to do what they are doing Rachel - unfortunately. It was an outcome that was not foreseen though. Donna is right - people are blinded by power. They believe it is their right - not a privilege.