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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

nobbling the Senate « Previous | |Next »
June 22, 2006

Senate Clerk Harry Evans gives a good account of how things are in the new Senate:

It's pretty clear legislation won't get amended unless the Government amends it. Committees won't be allowed to inquire into anything embarrassing. Committees are given less time to look at bills. Some bills are not allowed to be looked at (by committees). Estimate hearings have been shortened. There has been a contraction of accountability opportunities, but not major nobbling — yet.

Will there be a major nobbling? Probably not. The referendums in 1967, 1974, 1977, 1984 and 1988, which were all designed to reduce the independence and role of the Senate, were defeated by the people.


What there will be is a series of steps to hand more power to the prime minister to control upper-house scrutiny of government affairs. How then does parliament keep a watch on what Government's doing by pointing out the mistakes and misdeeds as they occur?

The judgement is that the Coalition will continue to retain control of the Senate at the next election

As the Canberra Times editorial observes:

The Senate's oversight and review functions are a pivotal part of parliamentary democracy, even if they haven't always been appreciated by executives whose legislative programs or ambitions have been thwarted or amended extensively by demanding senators. And the committee system, with its ability to debate and examine policy issues in detail, is an equally important role of the Senate - and crucial to the proper functioning of Australian democracy.

The editorial infers that this reduction of parliamentary scrutiny of ithe Howard Government's actions reveals a growing intolerance for criticism and scrutiny.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:46 AM | | Comments (0)