They are coming for us again

Yesterday evening, the Minister for Lotsa Stuff, the Hon. Kelly O’Dwyer gave a speech at the Sydney Institute.

Following her prepared speech, in response to a question, Minister O’Dwyer mentioned that the House of Representatives Speaker, the Hon. Tony Smith, had done a lot of work on the 4 year term proposal.

The fixed 4 year term has been a bee in the bonnet of Whitlamites since the Great Gough (GG) said in 2000:

In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent and unpredictable. The capricious timing of elections engenders public cynicism and political instability. They should be fixed at four years.

That a Liberal MP is spending resources on a Whitlamite idea should probably not surprise.  That there is no evidence supporting the benefits of fixed 4 year terms should also not surprise.  Recent evidence is actually to the contrary given the performance of former NSW State Government of Iemma/Rees/Kenneally, which was a fixed 4 year term.

Last month also, Ben Oquist, the former long term Chief of Staff to the Hon. Bob Brown and currently the Executive Director of the Australia Institute wrote in the AFR:

we actually need to increase – not decrease – the number of MPs in Canberra.

So.  Let’s add this up.  4 year terms and more not less MPs in Canberra.  But how about a bit more arithmetic that is seldom brought up.

Given the quirks of the Australian Constitution, there is nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate.  This means that a fixed 4 year term for MPs means a fixed 8 year term for Senators.

And for every additional MP, there needs to be an additional half a Senator such that the number of MPs is roughly double the number of Senators.  Also, each state needs to have an equal and even number of Senators.  Thus, any increase in parliamentary numbers would involve a minimum addition of 12 Senators (2 extra for the 6 states and 24 MPs).

Some may be old enough to recall that in 1983, before the Graham Richardson and Robert Ray reforms, there were 64 Senators (now 76) and 125 MPs (now 150).

So there you have it.  The political class would like (a minimum of) 14 senators per state with 8 year terms.  Oh and another 24 MPs.  Yep.  Another 36 extra bodies sitting comfortably and for longer on the nice red and green chairs of Parliament.

Put aside for the moment the immediate costs and consequences of these ideas.  Consider that Tasmania already has 1 Senator for roughly every 45,000 residents compared to NSW having 1 Senator for roughly every 625,000 residents.  Increasing the number of Tasmanian Senators, and South Australian for that matter, would have a calamatous impact on the governance of this country.

To change and fix parliamentary terms requires a change to the constitution.  To increase (or decrease) the numbers of Senators and MPs requires an act of Parliament.

When discussions of increased numbers and increased terms are brought up, citizens should employ the Broken Windows Theory and exercise zero tolerance.  Just throw ’em out

Just remind me.  For whose benefit is extra MPs/Senators with longer and fixed terms?  Let’s just ask Jack Lang :

In the race of life, always back self-interest.

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59 Responses to They are coming for us again

  1. Up The Workers!

    Parliamentarians, like dirty nappies, should be changed frequently – and for EXACTLY the same reason!

  2. stackja

    How many in Canberra are worth their money? A quick short count, five.

  3. Dr Fred Lenin

    What about a four year term, but only once in your lifetime ,with no super or severance pay ? Combine this with no taxpayer money for parties ,and a donation limit of $50 per person or organisation per annum. Instant sacking at the request of constituents for lying or bad behavior . There’s a nice little plan for the career liars ,wonder what the vote would be ? Wouldn’t be like the poofter marriage one would it comrades ?

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    What about senate reform number of senators by population,NSW and ACT 9 ,Vic and Tas 7,Qld 5,WA3,SAand NT 2,a total of 26 and a massive saving of taxpayers money. The Reps could be double the senate size ,combined with the career destroying one term limit this would change the system dramatically .

  5. struth

    That a Liberal MP is spending resources on a Whitlamite idea should probably not surprise. That there is no evidence supporting the benefits of fixed 4 year terms should also not surprise. Recent evidence is actually to the contrary given the performance of former NSW State Government of Iemma/Rees/Kenneally, which was a fixed 4 year term.

    Half of them aren’t legally allowed to be in Parliament, and they’re talking about the length of time?
    Let’s sort out first things first, and pull that topic back out from the carpet it’s been quickly swept under.

  6. Habib

    Under no circumstances should we be giving these swine more time at the trough, or guaranteeing stability and sinecure. What should be introduced is a recall provision, so bad governments (tautology, I know) can be summarily dismissed. Elections are far cheaper than Rudd/Swan/Gillard/Turnbull frontal lobe flatus.

    Add to this making governments, public servants, unions and political parties subject to the raft of legislation they inflict on the rest of us, particularly consumer law, and also make the bastards personally liable for any fuck-ups. I’d bet even with that the same maggots would put up for pre-selection, it’s not as if they can actually do anything useful, productive and lucrative.

    &BTW O’Dwyer is one of the more loathsome and half-witted members of a particularly obnoxious, stupid, inept and cowardly crew. She makes the previous member appear truly stellar, despite him not being anything extraordinary.

  7. Habib

    And cretins in Qld voted for this imbecility, as they were easily convinced that elections are a pain in the arse. They are, but governments are more akin to having your spine pulled out through your clacker with rusty pliers.

  8. egg_

    That a Liberal MP* is spending resources on a Whitlamite idea should probably not surprise.

    *”Turnbull Coalition Team” member, non?
    Says it all.
    Mal wants fixed 4 year terms for his franchise.

  9. Just Interested

    There’s only one way to fix it.

    Vote Labor.

  10. Habib

    Personally I’d like to see a Swiss canton style system brought in, gets rid of the need for elections and croaks the vile and self-serving sewer of political parties. All citizens are liable for selection through random ballot, for a fixed term, then replaced. Filling both houses with a broad section may result in a substantial number of genetic errors gaining office for a while, given the nature of the Australian population, however how could it possibly be any worse that what currently robs, bullies, patronises and insults us?

  11. H B Bear

    This is an outrageous slur on The Ponds Institute, one of Australia’s leading think tanks and regular guest of the ALPBC, Australia’s most trusted news source. Shame.

  12. mh

    David Feeney to resign from Parliament over dual citizenship, prompting Batman by-election

    Labor backbencher David Feeney will announce today he is resigning from the Parliament over his dual British citizenship, the ABC understands.

  13. Habib

    What a terrible loss to the tradition of fine administration this country has. He may have to move into the house he forgot about, then resume pursuit of paramedics with his delightful spouse.

  14. Habib

    Besides Guinness, have the Irish brought anything of any value to the antipodes?

  15. Chris

    Besides Guinness, have the Irish brought anything of any value to the antipodes?

    Identity npolitics.
    Oh, and Kilkenny.

  16. Habib

    Aboriginal activists. Militant trade unionists. Corrupt, stupid, hypocritical and incompetent politicians. Waterfront gangsters. Catholic pederasts. Dreadful twiddly-dee music. Fucking Bonio. Ireland should be nuked for the sake of the future of humanity.

  17. Driftforge

    Consider that Tasmania already has 1 Senator for roughly every 45,000 residents compared to NSW having 1 Senator for roughly every 625,000 residents.

    So break up NSW into reasonable size chunks. Stop complaining about the price of Federation. Tasmania would be better off on its own; the pittance we get given in compensation barely makes the shit we have to put up with bearable. Furthermore, stop thinking that the number of Senators has anything remotely to do with the population of the state; population is already the criteria for the lower house and there is no point replicating that.

    And yes, they should increase the size of parliament. I’d suggest 100 Senators and 200 Members.

  18. jock

    I seem to recall that the US reps are on a two year cycle.
    The uk is on 5. China is of course in perpetuity depending on how much the party likes you. I think they all loke 4 years as it gives them long enough to hope the punters forget the shafting they got in the first 2 years of the cycle goving them a better chance of reelection after another 2 benign years.

  19. Habib

    Tasmania should be used for naval gunnery practice, then sold to Richard Branson.

  20. struth

    Aboriginal activists. Militant trade unionists. Corrupt, stupid, hypocritical and incompetent politicians. Waterfront gangsters. Catholic pederasts. Dreadful twiddly-dee music. Fucking Bonio. Ireland should be nuked for the sake of the future of humanity.

    Big call.
    Let’s look at the number of Irish who rushed to enlist into the Australian forces during WW1 and 2.
    Looking at our recent immigrant behaviour and that most of the illegal arseholes in our parliament have British passports, and the Poms and the Scots actually made up the leaders of the union movement of old.
    Catholics require less government as the church takes it’s place, we could suggest that you may be generalising, indeed in a collectivist fashion showing your bias.

  21. C.L.

    Tasmania should be used for naval gunnery practice, then sold to Richard Branson.

    Then resume practice when he moves in.

  22. Habib

    Irish jokes and Spike Milligan mitigate their awfulness somewhat. And maybe Dave Allen. Bit hard to forgive refueling U Boats though. Or Sinaed O’Connor. Or Des O’Connor for that matter.

  23. struth

    . Or Sinaed O’Connor

    Nothing can excuse that.

  24. Entropy

    Habib
    #2624943, posted on February 1, 2018 at 12:39 pm
    And cretins in Qld voted for this imbecility, as they were easily convinced that elections are a pain in the arse. They are, but governments are more akin to having your spine pulled out through your clacker with rusty pliers.

    Right up until the vote held at the same time as th election, the polls were suggesting the majority of Queenslanders were against four year terms.

    I think what happened is enough people when they actually had to turn up and vote for the pricks, looked at the next piece of paper and went ”I really don’t want to vote for these bastards more often than I have to” and thus voted for the four year term.

  25. Entropy

    To change and fix parliamentary terms requires a change to the constitution. To increase (or decrease) the numbers of Senators and MPs requires an act of Parliament.

    I think you might need a change to the constitution to change the makeup of senators, for example the ration of senators to reps.

    My pref: only two senators from each state, they can’t be a minister, they can’t create a Bill, the only committees they can have are to review Bills previously passed by the HoR before them. Nothing else.

    And no to longer terms. There isn’t enough accountability as it is.

  26. Entropy

    Oh, and no representation from a territory.

  27. H B Bear

    Iemma/Rees/Kenneally

    This trio of cretins, criminals and hand puppets should have killed off fixed 4 year terms for all time.

  28. JohnA

    mh #2624971, posted on February 1, 2018, at 1:00 pm

    David Feeney to resign from Parliament over dual citizenship, prompting Batman by-election

    Labor backbencher David Feeney will announce today he is resigning from the Parliament over his dual British citizenship, the ABC understands.

    Vote 1 for Batman, then.

  29. Habib

    What about Bligh, Beattie and Pleasurechook? 4 minutes of those insufferable dildos is far too many. Handing them over to IS for evisceration is far too lenient.

  30. Roger

    My pref: only two senators from each state, they can’t be a minister, they can’t create a Bill, the only committees they can have are to review Bills previously passed by the HoR before them. Nothing else.

    Yes, the senate should only be a house of review.

  31. egg_

    Tasmania would be better off on its own

    Sell it to NZ.

  32. sabena

    “In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent and unpredictable. The capricious timing of elections engenders public cynicism and political instability. They should be fixed at four years.”
    Ever heard of the US House of Representatives which is every 2 years?
    As to the Senate there should be 5 senators per state and they should be elected every 3 years.There should be no senators for territories.Casual vacancies should remain unfilled until there is an election.

  33. H B Bear

    Casual vacancies should remain unfilled until there is an election.

    I like this. No dropping in a maaaaate, particularly one just rejected by an actual electorate.

  34. JohnA

    To change and fix parliamentary terms requires a change to the constitution. To increase (or decrease) the numbers of Senators and MPs requires an act of Parliament.

    Four years is not the problem.

    Fixed Term is the ticking time bomb. The experience of the PDR of Victoriastan is most instructive here. We have fixed four-year terms during which the Government does not have to face a vote of no confidence in the first three. (I note that this important snippet did not make it into the Wikipedia entry on the Victorian Parliament.)

    That makes Opposition impotent and entrenches government power – and the lust for power.

    Who did it? The accidental government of Steve Bracks!
    And who acquiesced? The wimpish Coalition Opposition…

  35. Up The Workers!

    David Feeney is resigning from Parliament.

    What a come-down – going from gormandising on the expensive taxpayer-subsidised tucker, to hanging about the house and munching on the odd free sanger.

  36. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    When the choice is Labor or Liberal I’m not sure why we even bother with elections. It’s just a fight between the same side to see who secures Ministerial salaries.

  37. Driftforge

    Sell it to NZ.

    Might work.

  38. Tel

    Tasmania should be used for naval gunnery practice, then sold to Richard Branson.

    Spruce it up a bit before inviting the buyer round? Like your thinking.

  39. Habib

    Were it fixed sentences it’d have my wholesale support. Four years is rather lenient however, when the enormity and breadth of the offences are taken into account. Trebuchet into feeding frenzy is probably more appropriate. While I abhor cruelty to animals, sharks are bastards, and would eat anything. Although more than a few prospective dishes would test the digestive capability of a woodchipper.

  40. Shy Ted

    We DO need more MPs in Canberra. As long as it stands for Murderous Psychopaths.

  41. jupes

    And cretins in Qld voted for this imbecility, as they were easily convinced that elections are a pain in the arse.

    Yes but Queenslanders also voted to be taxed on their gambling winnings.

    Maybe they are just dumb. Like really, really dumb.

  42. When discussions of increased numbers and increased terms are brought up, citizens should employ the Broken Windows Theory and exercise zero tolerance. Just throw ’em out

    Don’t be ridiculous.
    Open the window then throw them out. No need to waste perfectly good glass.

  43. areff

    In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent

    Apart from the US House of Reps: two years

  44. Dr Fred Lenin

    Feenys resignation could be a headache for the alp as the gangrene run a few councils in the electorate those Councils that hate Australia Day and use rate money to help “refugees” . The electorate is being gangreneised as the public servant left move in the workers are dying out replaced by public servants and welfare items even Marn Ferguson would have a battle being elected . Feeney was. Useless article anyway ,the average resident didn’t know him from a bar of soap . The alp is introuble from the h]gangrenes and the illiterate peasants from the Mid East and Africa they helped bring here .

  45. Dave of Reedy Creek, Qld

    Just trying to make it harder for us to get their piggy noses out of the trough. 3 years only, definitely not more.

  46. Kneel

    “Another 36 extra bodies sitting comfortably and for longer on the nice red and green chairs of Parliament.”

    Small thinking, yet again.
    We need 5 million senators and 10 million MPs.
    That should be just a bit more than the number of workers at the moment, so we’ll have to import some more bodies… oh, yeah, OK, just wait a couple of years, we should be good anyway, no need for reform there.
    With just a tad over 1 vote needed per rep, and only at most two voters per electorate, what could go wrong? Just vote for yourself (or your spouse), and you’re in! Good pay, indexed pension, perks – for EVERYONE. After all, the Govt has lots o’ money, right? They print it, don’t they? Print more! Easy peasy.
    QED.

  47. The BigBlueCat

    IIF (if, and only if) MP’s are limited to the number of terms they can serve, and there are restrictions on remuneration, superannuation and other benefits, and much more scrutiny on their travel and other expenses, then 4 year terms may not be such a bad idea (if there has to be a trade-off). Then again, apply all the above to 3 year terms ….

  48. Boambee John

    Up the Workser at 1505

    munching on the odd free sanger.

    Taking a bit of a Liberty?

  49. Robber Baron

    4 year fixed prison terms is preferable.

  50. I have a bright idea.

    Each state should have to pay the costs of their senators from a poll tax equally imposed on each of the registered voters in each state. Then the voters should be able to vote the appropriation for each of their senators and vote down the appropriation if they don’t approve of their performance.

    How about a bit of direct democracy

  51. d

    Introduce effective “Right Of Recall”powers to the electorate with immediate suspension of powers on declaration of the petition….

  52. destroyer D69

    If you leave early then the costs of the re-election process is sheeted home to your party.

  53. Sydney Boy

    4 year fixed terms for house of reps. Maximum 2 x terms per person. No pay increase, no change to current superannuation system.

    2 senators per state. That’s it. The US seems to survive with 2 senators per state.

    Senate is a house of review only – no bills.

  54. Crossie

    Tasmania would be better off on its own;

    Feel free, I can’t see many mainlanders objecting.

  55. Crossie

    Yes but Queenslanders also voted to be taxed on their gambling winnings.

    Maybe they are just dumb. Like really, really dumb.

    There may be an awful lot of Victorian and NSW retirees or tree and sea changers among them.

  56. Crossie

    Each state should have to pay the costs of their senators from a poll tax equally imposed on each of the registered voters in each state.

    This is an idea whose time has come.

  57. Rob MW

    In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent and unpredictable. The capricious timing of elections engenders public cynicism and political instability. They should be fixed at four years.

    That’s only true to the extent that, for example, the USA is not a ‘Democracy’ or an ‘Oligarchy’ but is instead a ‘Constitutional Republic’.

    That said the statement is completely false:

    Midterm elections in the United States refer to general elections in the United States that are held two years after the quadrennial (four-year) elections for the President of the United States (i.e. near the midpoint of the four-year presidential term). Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms are members of the United States Congress, including all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and the full terms for 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.”

  58. Squirrel

    “Minister O’Dwyer mentioned that the House of Representatives Speaker, the Hon. Tony Smith, had done a lot of work on the 4 year term proposal.” – well, why not – with the move to four year terms in several of the State/Territory jurisdictions, the standard of governance has improved immeasurably, hasn’t it…….

    As to further increases in the size of the House and the Senate, more politicians inevitably means more Ministers/Assistant Ministers, more staffers/advisors, more departments, authorities, commissions, agencies etc. etc. (and probably more entertaining Cabinet documents in discarded filing cabinets).

  59. cynical1

    Irish jokes and Spike Milligan mitigate their awfulness somewhat.

    The BEST thing out of Ireland?

    One of the best things. Period

    The late,great Rory Gallagher.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=rory+gallagher

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