“Save Our Senate” Town Hall full

Roland GRNS 10 August 2007 32

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.


What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
32 Responses to “Save Our Senate” Town Hall full
pierce pierce 6:16 pm 10 Aug 07

I’m a little puzzled by the slights directed at GetUp for managing to have a full house at an event.

Should seniors not be taken seriously?

I haven’t seen anything on the GetUp site that claims that organisation is funky youth specific

Cameron Cameron 5:02 pm 10 Aug 07

Disagree Sepi. She asked a simple question that could have been asked by any member of the public.

Would Jenni’s disclosure have altered the response from Senator Brown who quite possibly knew the staffer anyway? Doubtful – and if it would have, then the problem lies with Senator Brown, not with political staffers.

sepi sepi 4:16 pm 10 Aug 07

jenni – I’m sorry, but if you work for a senator that does add a layer of meaning to any public political comments you make, and should be disclosed.

Maelinar Maelinar 4:05 pm 10 Aug 07

Hey Roland, I bet I have planted more trees than you in the last 5 years.

Plastic Greenie.

Ant Pant Ant Pant 3:45 pm 10 Aug 07

I was there last night and I have to say, Ms B was pretty conspicuous – she was just about the only person in the room without white hair and a walking frame. Kinda gives the lie to Getup’s ‘we appeal to the funky young youth of today’ schtick, doesn’t it?

Slinky the Shocker Slinky the Shocker 3:33 pm 10 Aug 07

Haha… “undercover”. Roland, you start to sound like Lexi Downer…

jennib jennib 3:20 pm 10 Aug 07

Hi y’all,

I feel compelled to respond to Roland’s post here, as he has given the impression that I was somehow acting undercover in asking a question of Senator Brown at last night’s GetUp! meeting. This is not the case. While it is true that I did not identify myself as a member of Senator Humphries’ staff, this is because I was attending the meeting as a private individual, and therefore did not think it appropriate to bring my employer into it. Having come across the issue of the CFMEU donation in the course of my work, I was genuinely interested to hear Senator Brown’s take on it. I understand why Roland (and others) may feel that I should have identified myself, but the fact that I work for a politician does not mean that I don’t have interests and opinions of my own, or that I am necessarily speaking for my employer every time I open my mouth.

Also, since we’re talking about full disclosure, I should advise that I used to work with Roland, and he seemed mightily displeased when I jumped ship to take up my current job with Senator Humphries. This may give you some insight into why he has chosen to identify me personally in this forum – he and I have an existing, and not necessarily amicable (anymore) relationship.

On a final note, I do not post the articles from Senator Humphries, as Roland has suggested. As some of you may be aware, Senator Humphries has two young teenage sons, and they have been introducing him to the new fangled world of the Internet – his postings on RiotACT are an extension of that. When I am posting something on his behalf, I use this screen name so that people can tell the difference.

I hope this clarifies things somewhat, but if anyone would like to discuss this with me further, please feel free to drop me an email: jenni.butterfield@aph.gov.au.


sandwich sandwich 3:15 pm 10 Aug 07

Roland, just to clear a few things up, was this lady asked why she was there? I can understand your annoyance only to the point that you seem cranky that your candidate was attacked here…

and when you say ‘undercover’… was she wearing a balaclava, a wig, a fake nose???

You sound so upset Roland…. arn’t you running for the Senate???

Slinky the Shocker Slinky the Shocker 2:50 pm 10 Aug 07

“It is disingenuous to pretend that the people deliberately elected a Senate majority.”

They got sucked into his promises and voted for him… GET OVER IT!

Slinky the Shocker Slinky the Shocker 2:28 pm 10 Aug 07

“The people of Australia elected a Senate majority.”

Get over it people and just make sure it won’t happen again… F&$k, I’m agreeing with Ralph…

boomacat boomacat 2:27 pm 10 Aug 07

It is disingenuous to pretend that the people deliberately elected a Senate majority.

It happened inadvertently. I recall a survey conducted just before Howard took control of the Senate and the majority of people surveyed were nervous about it (including those who voted Coalition).

If anything it shows that most Australians did not understand how voting works in federal elections (many thought it was impossible for the govt to control both houses of Parliament) and the function of the Senate.

Let’s see how voters respond to the govt’s control of the Senate at the next election.

Compare the number of amendments to govt legislation that occurred before Howard gained control with the number that occurred thereafter, and then ask yourself whether we have a dictatorship.

Govt control of the Senate is a bad thing, irrespective of which major party takes the House.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 2:22 pm 10 Aug 07

Harry Evans is and always has been a staunch supporter of the role of the Senate, against some pretty strong opposition such as more recently Helen Coonan. I have the utmost respect for how brave he has been in that role.

But given Ant Pant’s claims here: http://the-riotact.com/?p=5521#comments that must make Harry a closet Green??? I don’t think so.

(One day someone will put a clear explanation of how to embed a hyperlink on here…)

Ralph Ralph 2:10 pm 10 Aug 07

And I’m sure Ralph that if Labor held a senate majority, you wouldn’t be parroting the “respect the electorate’s wishes” line every second post.

Yes I would.

tortfeaser tortfeaser 2:03 pm 10 Aug 07

For a post banging on about actors undercover it isn’t all that clear on Roland’s affiliations. A disclosure edit (that appears on the front page, without needing a click) would be appropriate.

And Harry Evans! FFS. Can there be a bigger self aggrandising egotist in the APS.

fnaah fnaah 1:49 pm 10 Aug 07

And I’m sure Ralph that if Labor held a senate majority, you wouldn’t be parroting the “respect the electorate’s wishes” line every second post.

You are welcome to ram “i was right and you were wrong” down our throats (if that be the case) after the next election results are in.

Ralph Ralph 1:36 pm 10 Aug 07

Yes pierce, I’m sure that the entire listening audience from 666 ABC wouldn’t have packed the room had the Senate majority been held by Labor.

pierce pierce 1:28 pm 10 Aug 07

98% of Victorians didn’t vote for Family First but they got a seat in the Senate – the system needs to be looked at. Maybe a proportional system would be more democratic. (Not that either party seem excited about this – except Steve Bracks)

The left (who, clearly I have a mandate to speak for 🙂 don’t have a problem with the choices made by Australians, more the erosion of accountability that came with it in the subsequent actions of the govt.

Ralph Ralph 12:30 pm 10 Aug 07

The people of Australia elected a Senate majority. The left doesn’t respect that.

Two and half years on and as far as I can see we are not living in a dictatorship, as was predicted by the screeching hoardes.

Minority parties in the Senate gain concessions for minority groups. That is distortionary.

Heavs Heavs 12:28 pm 10 Aug 07

I thought one of the aims of getup was to encourage younger people to get involved in the political side of things. Last night the average age of participants would have been well over 60.

pierce pierce 12:16 pm 10 Aug 07

It’s all part of the rich tapestry Roland, I think you should post more if anything. Much better to get information/opinion from a broad range of sources.

As for the question of who is representing who when they are asking questions or making statements in a public forum, as long as it’s true, I think it’s more important to discuss the issues.

People’s motivations for saying whatever they say will vary and just because someone works for an organisation, it doesn’t mean that they don’t actually believe what they are saying. (That’s probably why they are with the organisation in the first place)

The grey area is when someone makes out they represent an independent section of the community who is all gung-ho about a party position.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site