GetUp’s “Save Our Senate” Town Hall Forum, at the former Academy of Science building last night was full to overflowing.
Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans said that majority Governments deliver worse outcomes than negotiating ones. And that government backbenchers, in the past, created accountability measures such as Estimates.
Bob Brown said the consequence of a majority in both houses was all power being vested in one person; and that the Senate should be the backstop for the people. He added that the ACT could make an immediate difference to the balance of power.
Barnaby Joyce took the line that the Senate ought to reflect individual conscience and responsibility, and it was failing as a house of review because of the increasingly strong grip of the parties and their party rooms.
Lyn Allison claimed the RU 486 debate restored some faith in parliament because it was a conscience vote in both houses. And that the Senate should have control of its own rules, timeframes, and budgets, which it doesn’t have under the present government.
Chris Evans suggested that the Senate has saved governments from themselves, but that since 2005 it is no longer a place for real debate. He said that while Labor couldn’t win the Senate, at least two extra non-coalition Senators need to be elected.
Question time was interesting.
The issue of minor parties getting their act together on preferences was raised. Bob Brown advised the Greens had offered an exchange of preferences with the Democrats, as in the past. Lyn Allison said these decision are made closer to election date. The women who asked the question was disappointed with that answer. No-one mentioned that Labor Party preferences in Victoria elected a Family First Senator who earnt less than two percent of the primary vote.
Then an anymous young woman asked Bob Brown what he thought of Kerrie Tucker accepting a donation from the CFMEU. She (Jennifer Butterfield) chose not to tell anyone she’s on Senator Humphries’ staff (nor that she had written the press release attacking Kerrie on the issue, and put it on RiotACT).
So the real issue is about being up front. Who you trust. Telling it how it is.
This morning on radio Senator Gaz was happy to continue his attack on Kerrie for a donation the ACT Greens accepted, and made public. But he was not prepared to tell us where the Liberal Paarty is getting its money from.
Last night he was happy to send along his staff, to do his secret business.
Maybe Kerrie has a reputation for integrity that they hope to undermine. And he and his staff have nothing to lose by acting undercover when they try to do it.
I would bore you all rotten if I kept posting all my political stuff here. I will aim for restraint in future.