Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Greens Will Campaign to Reform House of Representatives as Howard Attacks Senate

5.8 million Voters Lose Out in Current System

With Prime Minister Howard's proposal to disempower the Senate set to be released next week, Greens Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle have released a paper summarising the case for modernising and democratising the House of Representatives through proportional representation.

"The single best reform in the interest of Australian voters is having the members of the House of Representatives elected by proportional representation," Senator Brown said.

"This should be by statewide electorates - as provided for in the Constitution - returning the same number of members as the states currently have in electorates.

"The 20% + of Australians who vote for smaller parties and independents would see their vote translate democratically into 30 of the 150 seats in the House. Compare that outcome with the 2001 election in which 5.8 million Australians had a failed vote in the sense that their candidate and party of choice was not elected.

"The change would see government and opposition much more responsive to the voters. The undemocratic single member electorate system means more than half the voters of Australia wake up on the Sunday after an election to find the person they voted AGAINST is representing them. Proportional representation puts modern democracy into the House," Senator Brown said.

"Proportional representation in various forms has been adopted in continental Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, the new assemblies in Scotland and Wales and for the European Parliament (including for British voters). It is also used in Tasmania, the ACT and many local government elections," Senator Nettle said.

"It was a founding fathers' option and strongly advocated by 'Founding Mother' Catherine Helen Spence and is catered for in the Australian Constitution. It requires only an act of parliament, and not a referendum, for its implementation. The Greens will campaign strongly for reform of the House and defence of the Senate as Mr Howard and Labor campaign against the Senate," Senator Nettle said.

By NSW Greens posted 7 October 2003


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