Wednesday, 11 July 2012

There is talk of "reforming"

the House of Lords in London. I  believe it once used to work quite well. It was one of those "undemocratic democracy things" as someone once described it to me. You got there by virtue of birth or the position you held somewhere else. Some people never bothered to attend at all. Others did. Sometimes things happened there and sometimes they did not. For all that it did work remarkably well. Things that grow like that often do. They find the most efficient way of working. It can appear remarkably inefficient but the job gets done.
Personally I would have left it alone.
We have "the Senate" here. When our founding fathers set up the government plan they had the idea that the Upper House or the Senate would look after the interests of the states. The people who sat there would represent their states. They would not represent a political party. The House or Representatives was there for the people.
Although it has never gone to a referendum the function of the Senate has changed. The Senate now votes along party lines. The current numbers mean that the combined vote of "Labor" (spelt without the "u") and the Greens will get any legislation through if it has passed in the House of Representatives. It is the House of Representatives which normally presents the problem because Labor is in the minority there and depends on the lone Green and the independents to get legislation through.
There was a "problem" the other day. The Greens voted with the Opposition against some legislation involving means of dealing with asylum seekers. The Greens do not agree with the Opposition on this issue - indeed they are far removed from them - but voting with them saw the legislation fail. Supposedly this was democracy at work.
There is likely to be more change at the next election - due in late 2013. If, as opinion polls suggest, the country returns to a Coalition party government then the government will have a hostile Senate. That the Coalition has this time around allowed most legislation to go through in the Senate will not carry any weight with a Senate controlled by Labor and the Greens
And this is not what our Senate is supposed to be about. It is supposed to be about the states. It is supposed to care for the interests of the states.
I think we have a potentially bigger problem with the Senate than the United Kingdom had with their old House of Lords. I wonder if Westminster will take note of what is happening here?


jeanfromcornwall said...

I am very worried about any proposed reform of our House of Lords. As it stood, the fact that the members were there simply by accident of birth meant that they were a weird and wonderful selection with a vast range of expertise and prejudices. This worked well, and also they were not thinking of how their actions would look to the voters.

Already we have rather a lot of party politics there with the appointed life peers, and to make it democratic would just make it an imitation of the lower house. We don't need that!

Party politics is a great screwer-up of democracy in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more with Jean! Our system is a disaster right now.

catdownunder said...

I have to agree Jean - once it gets party political then "democracy" can go right out the window!