David Leyonhjelm on the Senate crossbench

Some people like to describe the current Senate as musical chairs. It’s true there is considerable movement between seats, but the music hasn’t stopped and nobody is missing out on somewhere to sit. We need a better analogy.

I wonder whether Swingers might be more appropriate, given we’ve seen more swinging between parties than Married at First Sight.

Just as some people disapprove of swingers, some don’t like turncoat politicians. There is even talk that the minor parties will lose support because it. I hope that is not the case.

Each of the senators who changed seats left a party that was not grounded in clearly defined principles. The clue often comes in the party’s name; a party named after Jacqui Lambie, Clive Palmer, Nick Xenophon or Pauline Hanson can’t stand for anything other than what the leader thinks at a particular point in time.

And when the leader rises to fame as a contrarian rather than a team player, it’s unsurprising that team formation is not their specialty.

It’s particularly difficult in the case of the Lambie and Xenophon parties, when the leader is no longer in parliament.

These turncoat politicians have understandably found that standing in parliament without knowing what they are supposed to stand for is untenable. It’s as morally bankrupt as Bill Shorten backing Julia Gillard in 2012 when he said, “I haven’t seen what she’s said, but let me say I support what it is she said”.

Yet there is some upside in the ructions. Senators who were previously bound to an ever-changing and questionable party platform can now use their own intelligence and common sense to come to a position they are proud to defend. They can also work with other Senators in a similar situation.

As a libertarian I have numerous policy differences with the current crop of crossbenchers. However, with few exceptions they are taking their job seriously. I already work closely with Fraser Anning and Cory Bernardi; I expect to work more with Brian Burston; and Sterling Griff and Rex Patrick from the old Xenophon team are grown-ups who now have the freedom to come to their own well-reasoned positions. Hopefully I can convince each of them, policy issue by policy issue, of the benefits of smaller government.

Whenever a senator does something crazy, some commentators call for the Senate to be abolished. Yet that would leave us with just the House of Representatives. That’s the place where George Christensen, Bob Katter, Rebekha Sharkie and the Greens put the protectionists of the Senate to shame.

It would place us in the same situation as Queensland, where Joh Bjelke-Petersen thrived for decades controlling its one house of parliament as well as the courts, media, police, and the underworld of gambling and prostitution.
Swingers or not, we will still have a significant Senate crossbench after the next election.

Senators Hanson and Bernardi, plus the two remaining Xenophon team senators and three of the nine Greens senators aren’t even facing election. So there will at least be seven crossbenchers.

And with 32 percent of voters in 2013 and 35 per cent of voters in 2016 voting for parties other than Labor or the Coalition, even a collapse in the minor party vote will see more senators joining the crossbench. We will probably see at least one new crossbencher elected in each state, creating a total crossbench, including the Greens, of at least 13. Moreover, neither a Coalition government, nor a Labor/Greens government, will command a majority.
The question is, what sort of crossbench will we get?

That will depend a lot on the priorities of the media and major parties. Despite the last election being painfully long and a double dissolution caused by Senate obstruction, there was next to no coverage of how voting would shape the Senate. The major parties gave it little consideration and the media focused on Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull. Even I got bored and turned to Masterchef, and I was up for election myself.

This ought to change. Voters need to be informed of the principles, if any, of the parties vying for the Senate. I oppose most of the Greens’ positions, but at least I know where they stand. What of the others?

If voters are to elect a principled Senate crossbench rather than a bunch of swingers, they deserve to be told about the choices before them.

David Leyonhjelm is a senator for the Liberal Democrats

This entry was posted in Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to David Leyonhjelm on the Senate crossbench

  1. As always, David is the only head in the ACT that consistently makes sense.

  2. Egor

    You could give us some obfuscation on your open borders dogma, Dave.
    I do miss your big sidestep off the left foot, but it’s too easy to pick.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    The Senate here is a symptom of a disease which has inflicted the West. The rise of populism in the EU and US is another symptom.

    The progressive elites have captured the reins of government in all Western countries except a very few like Hungary and Poland. They are steering the ship in a direction the voters don’t want to go: more immigration especially muslims, higher taxes, high energy costs from stupid climate policies, more insane nanny regulation of everything and anything, indoctrination in the schools, universities, newspapers and on television, and QWERTY everything.

    Voters have had enough.

    So where voting systems, such as first-past-the-post and proportional representation, allow it we are seeing populists get up: US, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Brexit.

    Unfortunately our voting system heavily favours the two major parties, both of which have been fully captured by the progressive elites.

    The ructions in the Senate are due to unhappy voters looking for someone, anyone, to ease the pain. So they are voting for charismatic individuals who say they’ll put it right up the big boys.

    This will keep on happening until the voters get what they want: relief from the muslim invasion, extortionate green crap and SJW torture. Justice would help too, since the law only seems to apply to ordinary people these days, and not to union heavies, pollies and the well connected.

    Trump is the prototype of who will eventually get up in Australia: a down-to-earth charismatic savvy individual who delivers what the voters want.

    And when we get our Trump the slimy green progs of the big parties will be washed away.

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    The senate during the past ten years is further evidence that drastic reform of our political system is long overdue ,the old system worked when people were down to earth and fairly honest you certainly couldn’t equate today’s situation with either of those qualities. The time serving uniparty aparatchiks and political changers the senate is polluted with are strong indications of how low our society has sunk, due in full to the communist fascist infiltration of all our institutions . It’s time for a drastic change to the way our country will head in the future .

  5. What a lot of tosh. If the candidates for the Senate do not agree with the party they stood for then resign the seat to a person who will adhere to the party platform the voters actually voted for. This should be written into a contract with all candidates including penalties. Who would vote for Burston ,nobody. Who would vote for PH One Nation plenty .

  6. max

    from all bed political choices that we have in Australia, Liberal Democratic Party program looks good.

    but because I believe in this:

    Evans’s Law of Political Perfidy ( by M. Stanton Evans )

    “When our friends get into power, they aren’t our friends any more.”

    “The trouble with conservatives,” he once observed, “is that too many of them come to Washington thinking they are going to drain the swamp, only to discover that Washington is a hot tub.”

    “He knew politics. He understood how the Old Boy Network in Washington sucks in newly elected conservatives and turns them into clones of the system.”

    I will not vote for any one whose program do not involve:
    

establishment of Gold/Silver standard
    Abolition of Central bank
    Abolition of Fiat money and legal tender laws.
    Forbidding of fractional reserve banking.

  7. Roger

    Hopefully I can convince each of them, policy issue by policy issue, of the benefits of smaller government.

    All powers of persuasion to you!

  8. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I think we should have time-share governments, where people who choose to be citizens would first put in 11 months of community service, such as part-time fire-fighter, or paramilitary duties, or clean-up garboes, and could then form the government of their local council for the remaining month with all others who had joined on that month with them, whatever year. Direct participation, not representation. State governments would be conferences of local governments, to discuss any matter, and proposed laws being brought before the local governments for them to choose or reject. I call this system Meridocracy- Share Power!

  9. Senile Old Guy

    DL is in favour of open borders, something voters do not want.

    Bruce of N is spot on. If the answer is the LDP, you are asking the wrong question.

  10. Entropy

    Yes SOG, if only the LDP admitted a qualification: while there exists a welfare system, open borders will not be implemented.

  11. NuThink

    @SOG,

    DL is in favour of open borders, something voters do not want.

    He may very well be in favour of open borders now, but if we do get totally open borders his attitude will change. Not many of the open borders immigrants would vote for a Libertarian who believes in small government. Italy as I understand it has a new government that is unhappy with the semi open borders of the EU flooding Italy with refugees.

    Leonid Breznev and Gromyko were talking, Gromyko asked Leonid why he does not just open the borders and allow anyone to leave who wants to.
    Leonid replied “Because there would only be the 2 of us left”.
    “Oh” asked Gromyko, “You and who else?”

  12. Senile Old Guy

    Open borders people rarely change. Italy changed because the voters opted for a party that promised to close the borders.

  13. Mak Siccar

    As usual, BoN has nailed it!

  14. Mak Siccar

    As usual, BoN has a succinct and insightful analysis.

  15. Snoopy

    Joh Bjelke-Petersen thrived for decades controlling its one house of parliament as well as the courts, media, police, and the underworld of gambling and prostitution.

    Have another glass of Kool aid.

  16. H B Bear

    The Senate has never functioned the way the writers of the Constitution intended. It is now arguably the single greatest defect of the Australian democracy (and there is plenty else wrong with it) and roadblock to whatever mediocre reforms get through the House of Reps.

  17. nemkat

    Have another glass of Kool aid.
    Treating your readers like idiots does nothing for your message.

  18. None

    Cory Bernardi said much the same thing about having principles rather than personality in a Miranda Devine interview a few days ago so Davud is not telling us anything new, he’s just poaching Cory’s thunder.

  19. Egor

    And in another open borders triumph, 20% of the US prison population is now illegal aliens.
    David doesn’t mind the concept, it’s a Libert narrative thing.

  20. Jannie

    You talk nice David, but I am still uncertain. I voted for Aaron Stonehouse in WA, but I am still perplexed that you don’t get it that your open borders tendency is suicidal for any libertarian future.

    Please try and hear what the battlers, and the freedom lovers are saying, as Bruce of Newcastle articulates;

    The ructions in the Senate are due to unhappy voters looking for someone, anyone, to ease the pain. So they are voting for charismatic individuals who say they’ll put it right up the big boys.

    This will keep on happening until the voters get what they want: relief from the muslim invasion, extortionate green crap and SJW torture. Justice would help too, since the law only seems to apply to ordinary people these days, and not to union heavies, pollies and the well connected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.