September 27

Not so fast, Senator Faulkner


Senator Faulkner says the constitution, drafted by "our stodgy, walrus-whiskered founders” is in need of a tune-up.

No it isn’t. What we need are politicians and judges who are prepared to make it work as the people intended.

And I can just imagine the reaction in the United States if a politician were to be so dismissive, so condescending, about their Founding Fathers.

Senator, just about anybody can write a Constitution. And it shows.  Most are soon abject failures.

The Australian Constitution has made us the success story of the twentieth century.

 Senator Faulkner wants to introduce four year terms.

Didn’t the state politicians promise four year terms   would improve the quality of government?

As in New South Wales, I suppose.

If talk back radio is any indication, the people of New South Wales are very interested in recall elections, as in California, British Columbia and Switzerland.

Perhaps Senator Faulkner should be thinking of this rather than another referendum on four year terms.

…rotation of senators…

He also wants to increase vastly the power of the prime minister. Every election would be a double dissolution.

The rotation of senators was popular among republicans in the seventeenth century, and adopted by the Americans. We borrowed it from them.


He claims this would make the Senate “far more representative.” That’s the winner takes all approach.

The American Founding Fathers and ours were too smart to fall for that. They knew of the advantage of giving the Senate a longer view than just the snapshot at the election.

After all the Senate was intended to be a house of review with the original States equally represented, not a pawn of the government of the day.

Had that not been agreed we would still be six separate countries.

And by the way, Senator Faulkner has two other items on his shopping list, he told Fairfax reporter Philip Hudson.

One is removing the Senate's role in  controlling financial appropriations , and second, turning our crowned republic into one controlled by the politicians.

Senator, the Australian people said no to a politicans’ republic in 1999, no to four year terms in 1984 and 1988, and no  to simultaneous elections in 1974, 1977, 1984 and 1988.*

Don't divert millions more from, say, hospitals, water and schools.

And, incidentally, Senator, which part of no don’t you understand?


*[1974 Simultaneous Elections;1977 Simultaneous Elections;1984 Terms of Senators;1988 Parliamentary Terms]


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