The Representativeness of the Australian Senate and Failures of Reform

The Representativeness of the Australian Senate and Failures of Reform

By Richard Reid [1]

Prior to the 2016 federal election held on 2 July, the Australian Coalition government demonstrated a rare degree of collaboration with the Australian Greens and passed changes to reform the electoral process for the Senate. This post seeks to explain the reform and its intentions, and its complete failure in the wake of Australia’s double dissolution election. Further it argues that the debate about Senate reform should go much further than these changes, and the whole structure of the Senate’s composition should be opened up for debate in an effort to increase, rather than decrease, the representativeness of the Australian Senate.

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EVEL: ‘A major moment in the constitutional history of these islands’

EVEL: ‘A major moment in the constitutional history of these islands’

This post was originally posted on the Centre for Constitutional Change website on 03 July, which is available here, and has been re-posted with permission.

By Michael Kenny

The government’s announcement of its much anticipated proposals for the introduction of ‘English votes for English laws’ in the House of Commons, involves changes to the rules for scrutinising individual Bills, or clauses within them, that affect England, or England and Wales only. The reforms are proposed as an answer to the West Lothian question – the situation whereby MPs from the devolved territories can vote on matters that affect England only, such as Education, but English MPs cannot reciprocate on issues that are devolved. Continue reading

EVEL and Democratic Reform

EVEL and Democratic Reform

This post was originally posted on the Centre for Constitutional Change website on 03 July, which is available here, and has been re-posted with permission.

By Michael Keating

The introduction of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) faces a problem, says Michael Keating, in that only a minority of English voters will ever have supported the laws in question.

The government has now come up with its answer to the West Lothian Question, that Scottish MPs can vote on English matters but not the other way around. Unfortunately, it is not the type of question that has an answer, but rather a conundrum. English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) is therefore not going to satisfy everyone or resolve the issue. It may address some immediate grievances but is a very partial response to a much bigger issue. Continue reading

The Demise of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee: A cautionary tale of the indulgence of executive power?

The Demise of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee: A cautionary tale of the indulgence of executive power?

By Graham Allen MP, Dave Richards and Martin Smith

Brian Barry suggested that: ‘…there has been a massive rise in the incidence of sanctimony and smugness among the successful that has nothing to do with any change in the underlying reality… It has been stimulated by politicians who have realised that it is possible to win power by recruiting the most … successful forty per cent or so of the population in a crusade to roll back the gains made by their fellow citizens in the previous forty years’. Written fifty years ago, the spirit, if not the empirical accuracy of this sentiment, still holds true. The Conservative Party have returned to power with an outright, yet slim majority. The turnout, though slightly up on previous elections at 66%, saw the Conservatives secure a 36.9% share. Read another way this means that only 24.7% of those eligible to vote did so for the new governing party. The Westminster model was, of course, always designed to deliver out right winners thanks to the machinations of the first-past-the post electoral system. In 2015, it can certainly be said to have done its job. But in an increasingly anti-political age, with a growing sense of cynicism with the ways and means of the Westminster system, it might be argued that a new government with such a precarious majority would be well served by operating with a public show of humility, not hubris. Continue reading