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Constitution alteration (fixed term parliament) bill 1981



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T H E S E N A T E CANBE RRA

18 M a r c h 1982

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CONSTITUTION ALTERATION (FIXED TERM PARLIAMENT) BILL 1981

STATEMENT BY SENATOR MICHAEL MACKL'IN

As a general . p rin c ip le , the A u s tra lia n Democrats ; would fa v o u r a

change in the A u s tra lia n Constitution which would deny p o litical

leaders using, at any time, the ex is tin g powers to provoke or

demand an . election at a time which is p o lit ic a lly opportune to

them. ' . ■

However, this general concept must be given time to be tested

a g a in s t circumstances which may d isru p t other checks and balances

g u a ra n te e in g the powers of the p a rlia m e n t over the executive and

p a r lia m e n t 's re s p o n s ib ility to the people. · ; '

Furthermore, w h ile the Democrats h ave undertaken not to block

supply since it is our aim to reform r a t h e r than to obstruct

p a r i iam entary processes it is quite another matter to exclude

to ta lly the power of the Senate to do. so. At this stage we h ave no

mandate for such action, nor has any other p a r t y , |

A lot more consultations with the community at larg e as well as

with our own members is . necessary before such: a f a r - r e a c h in g

a lte ra tio n to the b alan ce of power between the two houses can be

u n d e rta k e n . .

For example, an a l t e r n a t i v e method a v a ila b le · to b re a k the

hypothetical 1 contest of w ills ' between the two houses is, offered

by the Democrats' proposals contained in the. Electors I n i t i a t i v e

Bill which provides that any petition presented to the p a rlia m e n t

. signed by. no less, than 15.0,000 electors, shall be 'submitted to the

electorate by way of referendum w ith in 2-12 months. This period

could be Shortened if the referendum . deals with The provision of

' s u p p l y ' . In the event of a positive vote, the Senate would be

obliged to pass the b i l l . I n . the case of a n e g a t i v e vote the

g o v e r n m e n t . would be o b l i g e d to c a l l a Double D is s o lu t io n .

T h i s course of a c t io n is in a c c o r d a n c e w i t h the Democrats' b e l i e f

t h a t the community should . be e n a b l e d to p a r t i c i p a t e more a c t i v e l y

in the p o l i t i c a l process a n d t h a t , as f a r as po ss ib le , members of

p a r l i a m e n t should be a c c o u n t a b l e d i r e c t l y to t h e i r c o n s t i t u e n t s .

T h e r e f o r e we commend Sena to r E v a n s ' i n i t i a t i v e as a p ro m is in g

b e g i n n i n g to wh a t , we hope wi l l be a h e a l t h y p u b l ic- d e b a t e .

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT SENATOR MICHAEL MACKLIN 72 7595 . . . :