7 November 2022

Pocock calls for six ACT Senators so it is fairly represented

| Ian Bushnell
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david pocock

Senator David Pocock in the Senate chamber: “The whole basis for determining the number of Senators to represent the ACT and the NT should be reconsidered.” Photo: Lincoln Magee.

The ACT should have triple the number of Senators it currently elects, according to ACT Independent Senator David Pocock.

Senator Pocock, who made history by depriving the Liberal Party of representation in the Senate for the first time by ousting Zed Seselja, has argued the case for four more senators in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the May federal election.

He is also calling for terms to be increased to six years in line with the states.

Senator Pocock says granting two senators to the ACT and Northern Territory in 1975 was a political decision not based on any real notion of democratic representation.

“It did ensure that the two Territories were represented in each party room, but not in anywhere near the levels of other small jurisdictions,” he says.

“The debate did not seek to answer the question: what is a baseline level of democracy that is appropriate for small (non-Original State) jurisdictions? What is the balance between Federalism and representative democracy?”

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Since then, the ACT’s population has doubled, the number of state senators has increased from 10 to 12, and the ACT is under-represented in the Senate compared to the two smallest states of Tasmania and South Australia.

“The whole basis for determining the number of Senators to represent the ACT and the NT should be reconsidered,” he says.

Senator Pocock proposes that the number of territory senators be maintained at a level that is more than one-third but less than two-thirds of the number of state senators.

“This maintains a level of flexibility between state and territory numbers while ensuring a base level of representation for the Territories,” he says.

Senator Pocock says the ACT should elect three senators each half-term election, reducing the quota from 33 per cent to 25 per cent of the vote, still a high bar but achievable for an Independent or small party.

This would have resulted in Mr Seselja retaining his seat, as well as Senator Pocock being elected.

“I believe strongly in a diversity of views and lived experiences in Parliament and think that any efforts to reduce barriers to entry, including lowering the quota in the territories, can only be a positive thing,” Senator Pocock says.

But if a party or group received 51 per cent of the vote they would receive two out of the three seats available, a more democratic outcome with representatives in the Senate better-reflecting voter intentions, he says.

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Senator Pocock also wants to see reforms to political donations and truth in political advertising laws.

He calls for caps on political donations, that they be disclosed within five days, the current threshold of $14,5000 be significantly reduced and the definition of a gift be reviewed.

Senator Pocock also backs campaign spending caps, increased public funding of parties and candidates and the establishment of an independent expert panel to oversee and assess government advertising campaigns.

He calls for an independent arbiter, but not the Australian Electoral Commission, to decide truth in political advertising disputes, warning that asking the AEC to rule on such matters could undermine its impartiality.

“It is perfectly legal to lie in political advertising in Australian federal elections,” says Senator Pocock, who was the subject of attacks during the campaign that he describes as negative and misleading.

“Regulating truth in political advertising will always be a challenging balancing exercise.

“We must ensure that misinformation does not undermine the integrity of our elections while continuing to uphold the freedom of political communication.”

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Some more people in parliament doing nothing for the ACT line Our Mate Gallagher

The ACT definitely does not need more Senators, and an increase cannot be justified. They do very little, and are just overpaid spokespeople for certain companies who have paid them.

So if we had 3 times as many we would get 3x as much done?
Would be nice if David could highlight what he achieved rather than blaming labor for the things he was never able to deliver.

2 Senators or 100, labor would have said no to paying off our debt. ACT is a safe labor seat.

The more senators the easier it to hide. If the ACT wanted its senators to do more, couldn’t it just fund more support people?

HiddenDragon10:04 pm 07 Nov 22

“Senator Pocock says the ACT should elect three senators each half-term election, reducing the quota from 33 per cent to 25 per cent of the vote, still a high bar but achievable for an Independent or small party.”

Zed and friends will be greatly encouraged by this – as will the “Menzies Group” when they savour the prospect of a factional deal to run alternating candidates every three years.

Just when it appeared that all hope had been lost……

Just a thought , but perhaps David might talk to his Boundless Earth and TEAL backers , who undoubtedly bought this up, and get them to consider Tassy to be a tad over governed.

Tasmania have a population of 541.000
Federally they have 12 senators, and 5 in the lower federal house.

They have a state parliament of 40, 25 in the lower house and a upper house of 15.

Hobart has a elected town council of 12, as does Launceston

Every second person has a cousin who is either an elected representative , or work in their office ( to be verified )

And thanks to Futureproof, “”Doesn’t Pocock bang on about government waste? I can’t think of a bigger waste than more pollies representing a population smaller than a local council area in a Sydney suburb””

The problem Mr Pocock faces is that he is basically arguing that we need more Senators because our population has increased. Logically, then NSW and Vic should have more Senators than other States because of their higher populations and when adding in Qld, those 3 States could control the Senate; hardly what our founding fathers would have determined as a proper balance between the Commonwealth and States.

Capital Retro12:01 pm 07 Nov 22

That would make Senator Pocock even more irrelevant than he already is.

Oh Dear, still grieving for Zed are we ?

So Pocock thinks that it would be more democratic if the ACT with 450k people, had 6 Senators?

Whilst NSW with 8.3million people had 12?

Problem with this “baseline level of democracy” argument is what the purpose of the Senate is for, it’s history and what could be changed potentially to make it more representative.

Focusing on the smaller states is meaningless in this context and just highlights that maybe the problem is the high representation in those small states in the first place.

Doesn’t Pocock bang on about government waste? I can’t think of a bigger waste than more pollies representing a population smaller than a local council area in a Sydney suburb

Agreed. Unfortunately we have at least another 5 1/2 years of this muppet.

@Gary – sometimes researching before whinging helps you form factual arguments

Peter Graves8:01 am 08 Nov 22

It would be very relevant for you to be aware that ACT Senators are only elected for THREE years. The knowledge is here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/federal/2022/guide/senate-act

To hutch and Peter – Thanks for the lesson. My bad.

And hutch, I wasn’t whinging. I was making a statement.

Capital Retro1:32 pm 11 Nov 22

His financial backers will make sure he wins a second term.

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