AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY NEEDS A REFORMATION

Let us for the moment presume that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister of Australia on Saturday evening.

Once he settles into the job, I will seek a meeting with him to advocate a number of changes to the way in which we elect governments and the manner in which changes can be made to the Senate which is currently a blot on democracy.

Firstly, Compulsory Voting must cease.

It is fundamentally wrong to force people to vote when they have no interest whatsoever in the future of Australia and can’t be bothered to vote. They usually vote irresponsibly, especially by registering a ‘donkey’ vote which causes candidates to win when their only qualification is that their name was at the top of the ballot paper.

Secondly, Preferential Voting must go.

At every election, more and more people want to lodge a protest vote against the major parties whom they detest, but this is negated because their preferences inevitably wind up electing one of those parties that they absolutely do not want. This is offensive.

A simple way to handle this is that all voters should be required to nominate only one alternative to their primary vote by putting a 2 in one other box.

At the same time, we must stop the long wait for postal votes to arrive before winners can be determined. Postal votes must arrive by Express Post in the electorate one day before the election or not be counted. This will enable winners to be announced on Election night thereby saving us all an agonising wait .

Then, we need a referendum to break the Nexus whereby our Constitution says the Senate must be half the size of the House of Representatives. We simply do not need the 75 Senators that we have now. All that they do is plot and scheme to avoid boredom.

At Federation in 1901, there were five Senators from each State. That was enough then and is still enough now.

And it means that they will have to get 20% of the vote to make it into the Senate, thereby cutting out all the nutters.

Just as important will be a rule that denies Senators two terms. They must get only one, as do MP’s, and all face the voters at the same time as MP’s. Hopefully, this will make them act more responsibly if that is possible.

Then, a referendum will be needed to curb the powers of the Senate to reject legislation as the Founding Fathers did not ever intend them to have the powers that they assumed when Kerr fired Whitlam.

It is clearly stupid to elect a government in the Reps then stop them from governing. If we reckon that they are not governing well, then we toss them out after their first term is up.

This raises the valid issue of whether any government can govern effectively if they have only three years to do so. They can’t. Four year terms are a necessity.

Finally, let’s fix the Republic issue quickly also.

We can remain the Commonwealth of Australia and just remove all mention of the British Crown from the Constitution, replacing it with the words ‘The people of Australia’. This can easily be achieved in a non threatening referendum.

We won’t need a President.

We can keep the Governor General, but deny the Prime Minister the right to appoint her or him. This must be done by a vote that requires a two thirds majority of a Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament, thus preventing one Party from dominating the vote.

Voters would be given the right to nominate candidates for this Parliamentary vote by getting 10,000 voters to sign a petition to present the name of a candidate.

If the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition wants to put forward a candidate, they must get 10000 votes also.

This procedure can be accompanied by a law that says that no one can nominate anyone who has ever been an MP or Senator or ever been a member of a political party.

If Bill Shorten can achieve all of the above in his first term, I will happily give him half a dozen bottles of fine aged single malt whisky as it will have been an extraordinary achievement.

Good hunting Bill. You will have changed the face of Australia

Cheers

Everald Compton

 

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