Mandates are so yesterday!Now I know mandates are old hat. That any person elected to a position can rightly claim they owe it to their voters to follow through on the policies they espoused to earn their supporters' votes. So it follows that every elected member of parliament feels justified in voting according to their stated policies even if the wider electorate would prefer otherwise.
Long gone is the old mandate concept that if a party that clearly stated its policies during the campaign was later elected in the house of reps with a clear majority, the other parties should pass those policies in the senate. Clearly that was abandoned some years ago, alas, with some severe consequences. Consequences the community is only now starting to take seriously.
So we have a problem!The problem is this, populist issues can always sway a sufficient number of voters to elect to the senate smaller parties pushing a particular barrel. A number of these independent or small party candidates can bring legislation to a halt. This was exemplified by the current senate where the independents banded together to thwart the coalition's less 'popular' economic policies.
Acting in their own self interest these 'accidental' senators would generally side against measures they felt were 'unpopular' in the electorate, eg a co-payment for Medicare, or changes to the pension asset tests.
Of course you may feel this was exactly what the senate is meant to do, to reject unpopular legislation. But since the deficit cannot be repaired without reducing spending and thereby reducing services or welfare, both 'unpopular' measures, the budget cannot be repaired at all!
In the face of very serious economic tides it leaves the country vulnerable. We have already lost too much time and allowed the deficit to grow and fester.
That is no way to run a country.
What can we do about it?
It need not be this way. We still have a vote and we can use it well. While I have nothing against any of the candidates personally, in the senate, I suggest we collectively reject all single issue candidates and minor parties, all of them!
If you are a Labor voter then select the Labor candidates below the line and leave all others blank.
If you are a Coalition voter then select the Coalition candidates below the line and leave all others blank.
If you don't support either of the major parties, maybe , in the interest of the country, you should nevertheless vote for one of them in the senate.
I know the major parties have not nominated 12 candidates in each state, so select only the number they have selected. Your vote will still count.
If you wish to send a message to your party by all means don't select the candidates in the order in which your party selected them.
A number of coalition voters still upset by the sacking of Abbott will want to elevate Abbott supporters and 'punish' his deserters. (You can see the who supported whom here.)
What can this achieve?
If everyone followed this pattern the senate would reflect the House of Reps giving full control of both houses to the one party. In its most traditional sense the Senate would then become a house of review. The senate would see its job as scrutinizing legislation for unintended consequences not for blocking the legislative agenda of the government.
Yes, there is a downside to this. The one party could legislate whatever it wanted for 3 years.
Yes, there is an upside to this. The one party could legislate whatever it wanted for 3 years.
This has happened in the past and the country did not fall apart. All parties are in it for the long term, so they are fully aware that if they do not satisfy the country as a whole they can be turfed in just 3 short years.
Let the government govern. Lets see what they really do to drive the country towards prosperity without the Senate's foot on the brake.