20 years of the Legislative Assembly

johnboy 11 May 2009 41

So apparently today marks the 20th year of sittings in the London Circuit Soviet also known as the Legislative Assembly.

Having done the fogey reminiscence to mark the anniversary of the first election let’s instead look forward.

What would you change to improve the governance of our Territory?


What's Your Opinion?


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41 Responses to 20 years of the Legislative Assembly
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RayP RayP 9:30 pm 12 May 09

The constitution of the ACT wasn’t and isn’t decided by the people of Canberra. It was decided by the Commonwealth Parliament. I am not sure where that leaves the legitimacy of government in Canberra.

Statements to the effect that “that’s democracy” suggest a limited understanding of the range of views on the nature of democracy.

There is an elite view of democracy along the lines that the people elect the elites who then make all the decisions until the next election. Clown Killer seems to have this view of democracy. The current ACT Labor Government seems to also like this approach to democracy.

But there are also participatory theories of democracy that run a long the lines that the more participation in decisions by more people the more democratic it is. On these theories, more democracy, meaning more participation, is better.

Also from this perspective, elite decision making is not very democratic.

Interestingly, from their policy statements, both the Greens and the Liberals seem to lean toward participatory approaches to democracy.

It also looked to me like the Canberra electorate voted in that direction in the last election – that many voters wanted a more participatory approach to decision making.

So, when people make claims to the effect that this is what democracy is, it would be good to recognise that they are making that claim from a particular perspective.

Also, if ACT Labor does lean to an elite theory of democracy while the the Greens (and the ACT electorate)lean to a participatory theory of democracy then that could lead to interesting sparks between Labor and the Greens.

I favour a participatory approach to democracy and I would like to see local councils in addition to a larger Assembly. I would like to see more democracy rather than less.

jakez jakez 1:06 pm 12 May 09

johnboy said :

Parliaments are elected by the people Jake, and constitutions should be voted for by the people.

So if the Parliament and the constitution derives its power from the people, why can it not thus be restrained or directed by the people on a specific issue?

caf said :

Mind you, no-one around today voted for our Constitution. Maybe a Constitution should be relegitimised by a vote of confidence every generation?

You don’t understand caf. When you were born you signed a social contract. It’s a magical document that you automatically agree to despite the fact that you can’t agree to anything else for the next 18 years. You’ve already agreed to it, I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

caf caf 12:56 pm 12 May 09

Mind you, no-one around today voted for our Constitution. Maybe a Constitution should be relegitimised by a vote of confidence every generation?

johnboy johnboy 12:48 pm 12 May 09

Parliaments are elected by the people Jake, and constitutions should be voted for by the people.

jakez jakez 12:47 pm 12 May 09

johnboy said :

caf said :

(Citizen Initiated Plebiscites would get around my objection though – nonbinding, but a declaration of support that would require the Government to have a pretty damn good explanation for not following through).

Agreed, parliaments should only be bound by constitutions.

…not the people?

Worst. Social Contract. Ever!

johnboy johnboy 12:45 pm 12 May 09

caf said :

(Citizen Initiated Plebiscites would get around my objection though – nonbinding, but a declaration of support that would require the Government to have a pretty damn good explanation for not following through).

Agreed, parliaments should only be bound by constitutions.

jakez jakez 12:45 pm 12 May 09

caf said :

The problem I have with the concept is that the questions (because they’re written by the proposal’s proponents) won’t consider the tradeoffs inevitably involved. They’ll say “Should we do XYZ Worthy Thing?”, but won’t ask “… and where should the money come from, how will we deal with these consequences, …”.

A legitimate concern and one that would need to be addressed in the strucure of the system before it could go ahead.

jakez jakez 12:44 pm 12 May 09

Thumper said :

‘Introduce Citizen initiated Referenda’

No, no, no.

Nothing would ever get done..

Strikes me as a good thing.

Clown Killer said :

Jakez, I’m a firm believer in voting and then letting whoever gets in go about the business of being the government. If the electorate don’t rate the Government they can send them on the ‘walk of shame’ at the next election – that’s democracy. In a citizen initiated referendum you get a group of people with a common self interest suggesting that they know better than the rest of the electorate and a bunch of money gets pissed away.

You haven’t backed up your assertion.

To all: Look at your arguments. Basically democracy leads to bad outcomes, thus we must limit democracy but pretend that we aren’t. This is meant to legitimise the Government? It’s nothing but a fraud.

Agorism for the win!

caf caf 12:42 pm 12 May 09

(Citizen Initiated Plebiscites would get around my objection though – nonbinding, but a declaration of support that would require the Government to have a pretty damn good explanation for not following through).

caf caf 12:38 pm 12 May 09

The problem I have with the concept is that the questions (because they’re written by the proposal’s proponents) won’t consider the tradeoffs inevitably involved. They’ll say “Should we do XYZ Worthy Thing?”, but won’t ask “… and where should the money come from, how will we deal with these consequences, …”.

johnboy johnboy 12:27 pm 12 May 09

CIR work just fine in numerous places.

Where it works well they require a large number of petition signatures.

I’d suggest 10% of electors. So in Canberra they’d need what 15,000 signatures? Anything that could get that many would be an issue worthy of consideration IMHO.

It then goes on an extra ballot handed out at election time so extra cost is minimal.

And then instead of focus groups or poll samples of thousands we’d actually know what the voting public (remember we remain notionally a democracy) wants done on issues of burning importance.

I realise this is a disturbing idea to much of Canberra though.

Thumper Thumper 11:52 am 12 May 09

‘Introduce Citizen initiated Referenda’

No, no, no.

Nothing would ever get done..

Clown Killer Clown Killer 11:48 am 12 May 09

Jakez, I’m a firm believer in voting and then letting whoever gets in go about the business of being the government. If the electorate don’t rate the Government they can send them on the ‘walk of shame’ at the next election – that’s democracy. In a citizen initiated referendum you get a group of people with a common self interest suggesting that they know better than the rest of the electorate and a bunch of money gets pissed away.

caf caf 11:45 am 12 May 09

“…In other news, at today’s referendum the question ‘Would you like to have your cake and eat it too?’ passed with a resounding 84% majority. Commentators described the 16% against as a ‘protest vote'”.

jakez jakez 11:30 am 12 May 09

So your problem is a Government being hamstrung from doing something that is contrary to the majority view, by a direct referendum supplying the majority view?

Jesus Christ, you statists don’t even believe in your own product.

Clown Killer: Well you can engineer the situation to limit the cost of the structure. As for a horde of special interest groups, well why not? I don’t see the problem of having a few referenda to vote on at an election. Give me some horror stories from the US.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 11:03 am 12 May 09

‘Introduce Citizen initiated Referenda’

please for the love all that is holy no. I can’t think of anything that would hamstring governments more.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 10:52 am 12 May 09

Introduce Citizen initiated Referenda

Jakez, don’t go there. Can you imagine the mayhem that the plethora of self interest groups will cause with that? I can see a dark world where every vaguely unpopular decison governemnt makes gets tested by a referendum. Community engagement is great but pulling the rug out from under an elected executive every time theres a hard call to make is just lunacy.

jakez jakez 10:35 am 12 May 09

As for single member electorates, it’s not so much about punishing the ALP for being too popular, but more about the concept that if you have a Party that gets about 40% of first preferenece, gain 100% of the seats, that sort of doesn’t accord with democratic principles.

Now I’m not one to go ooh democracy rah rah, but it sort of helps when selling the tyranny of the majority by having at least be a tyranny of the majority and not a tyranny of the minority.

jakez jakez 10:25 am 12 May 09

* Dramatically increase the size of the LA.
* Dramatically reduce representative salaries (ie, $300 a year)
* Keep Hare Clark
* Possibly devolve power to geographic councils (possibly), keeping an ACT wide LA with one Hare Clark electorate, and then further smaller councils. This would be subject to a very stringent cost/benefit analysis despite my extreme favouring of decentralisation of power and federalism.
* Introduce Citizen initiated Referenda
* Campaign to remove Federal Government Veto Power except in areas relating to the Parl Triangle and National Institutions

or

Abolish Government

Either one is fine by me 😉

farnarkler farnarkler 9:39 pm 11 May 09

Sack them all and bring back the NCDC.

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