28 September 2010

The waning parliament: our democracy deserves better

"At first blush, the exquisitely hung Parliament appeared as a harbinger of hope; an outcome which would restore a modicum of relevance to that sadly eroded institution, parliament.

Just as parliament fought against the kings of old, it has in recent times been forced to battle executives of both political persuasions, which have managed to circumvent genuine scrutiny as they ruthlessly sought to dominate parliament.

And then along came the suddenly powerful independents with their wish list which was for the first time of relevance to the major parties, and near the top of that list was a set of demands aimed at reforming the way parliament works.

Previously, parliamentary reform was merely something an opposition raised, sick as it was of governments not answering questions at Question Time and generally using the forms of the House, safe within its numbers, to press home partisan advantage. The only real proponents of parliamentary reform apart from bleating oppositions (which quickly forget once in office) have been the independents and minor parties which are always at a disadvantage under the rules drawn up by incumbents."

"A first-term MP remarked to me recently, after serving on a committee examining parliamentary procedure, that he was surprised how few members were interested in parliament as an institution, seeing it merely as a forum in which to seek or retain power.

How noble the idea, how base the use to which it is put. Our democracy deserves better."

Dr Norman Abjorensen is research director at the Parliamentary Studies Centre at the ANU, Canberra, and co-author of Australia: The State of Democracy.

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    Comments (57)

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    • Ture Sjolander :

      28 Sep 2010 8:18:27pm

      The new speaker of our parliament have been appointed by Mr, Ms and Mrs Hung and has to follow and respect the very fragile democratic election result through teaching and reminding the members that any robust aggressive behavior will risk the the democracy.
      Right now it is a golden opportunity for the nation to grow, pending on intelligent behavior and cooperation in a relaxed manner.
      The people of Australia need a break from anachronistic politics as well as the members of the parliament deserves, after all.
      Any "rugby playing" politicians should practice that "sport" on their free time outside our parliament, or we the people will return to the board again, and fire you!

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           TURE  SJOLANDER