Opinion – Everald Compton
Bill Shorten has recommended to Malcolm Turnbull that they join together in a bi-partisan attempt to hold a Referendum on Constitutional Change which will enable the Australian Parliament to have four year fixed terms. To his credit, Turnbull has left the door open for further discussions.
This is a good initiative that I will strongly support and I hope that you will too.
It will enable governments to spend at least their first year of office implementing difficult policies before they inevitably become obsessed with their pressing need to hold on to power at the next election.
In addition, fixed terms will cause Prime Ministers to cease their appallingly undemocratic practice of calling elections on a political whim, treating us all as fools in the process, just as Campbell Newman did so disastrously in Queensland and Theresa May did so arrogantly in Britain.
However, a referendum will succeed only if other constitutional changes are made at the same time.
The first is that changes are needed in the Senate which is the most undemocratic institution on the planet, filled with people who have an enormously distorted vision of their unintended power and enjoy languishing there for six unaccountable years.
If the current practice of Senators serving double terms continues to be tolerated, they will have eight years before they face the voters again, which will be an absolute abuse of privilege, appalling by any democratic standards.
So, the Constitution must be changed so they serve one four year term only, exactly the same as the Members of the House of Representatives, with their elections being held at exactly the same time. The Constitution currently does not provide for this.
And the number of Senators must be drastically reduced.
Australia does not need a Parliament that elects 12 Senators from each State, most of whom do not have a clue as to how to fill their days. Five from each State is plenty and the financial savings will be enormous. This will mean that there will also be a lesser number of crossbenchers who can stop a Government from carrying out the mandates on which they were elected.
At the same time, the Constitution must be changed to say that the House of Representatives can never have more than 100 electorates. We have far too many Members of Parliament, over 150 in fact, despite the fact that we live in a world where most voters are disgusted with politics and want the least number of politicians possible.
Along with this, we must also abolish preferential voting which is massively manipulated by politicians and creates situations in which it can takes months to decide who won. Whoever is first past the post must always win and we can know on Election night who our next government will be.
If we can achieve this in one referendum, that will be an enormous achievement by comparison with the fate of previous referendums, but it can be done. Indeed, the vote to reduce the number of Members and Senators will get a 99% positive vote. I have allowed 1% for the votes of politicians and their families and friends.
After giving the voters a few years rest, we must then have another referendum to totally abolish the Senate. Quite simply, it is not needed.
When drafting the Constitution in the 1890’s, our Founding Fathers created a Senate for one purpose only, to protect the small States against the big ones. But, in one and a quarter centuries, there has never been an occasion when Senators from one State have ever banded together to vote to protect their State. They have always voted by direction of their political parties.
Nor do we need a Senate as a House of Review. When we elect a Government, we must let them govern and not have one hand constantly tied behind their backs. Democracy allows us to toss them out at the next election if they betray their mandate.
After waiting for a few more years of voter respite, we can then have another go and force all six States to scrap Local Governments and break their States up into smaller States. We will need about 50 of them nation wide, who will assume the current powers of both State and Local Governments. The Constitution already gives States the power to break up into smaller States while, strangely, that same Constitution does not mention Local Governments at all.
This significant change will cause enormous rural and regional development to occur, utterly decentralising Australia, as the needs of our existing capital cities are absolutely different from those of the rest of Australia.
State Governors will be no longer needed. All fifty States will have an Administrator who is responsible to the Governor General for ensuring that responsible government prevails.
Whilst I am a staunch Republican and want to see that happen quickly, I also can see all of the above changes as being equally necessary to the final removal of the remnants of unsatisfactory government by Colonial England.
Clearly, it is long overdue to reform Australian politics and voters are now in a mood to take a huge hit at a complacent Establishment which is serving us badly.
Let’s start right now.
Yours at Large