‘No upper house’ says Hinchliffe
Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 11:57 am
Queensland is unlikely to ever restore an upper house to the State Government the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchliffe, said recently.
Mr Hinchliffe said Australian democracy has developed to the point where a Legislative Council would create more problems than it would solve.
“It is simply no longer a modern and effective part of the political system,” the minister said.
The Queensland Legislative Council was abolished in 1922, making Queensland the only Australian state without an upper house.
Recently debate has emerged over the issue with many arguing the return of the house would keep the Premier’s power in check.
Mr Hinchliffe said it was unrealistic to assume restoring Queensland’s Upper House would prevent corruption in government.
“After the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the reforms of the Goss Government we now have fewer recent cases of corruption than states with an upper house such as Victoria,” he said.
The minister said Queensland instead needed a modern restructure of the political system to make it more visible and engaging with the wider community.
“Given the provincial nature of Queensland Government it would be far more useful to be governed at a closer level through a committee based format,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
Lecturer for the Faculty of Justice at the Queensland University of Technology, Mark Lauchs, said it was highly unlikely the Legislative Assembly would ever vote for an upper house.
“The catch-22 is that if a government is corrupt it’s not going to elect a regulating body to monitor them and if a government isn’t they’re not going to see the need,” he said.
Mr Lauchs also said there would never be enough public support for the idea.
“People are never going to support this option as long as it requires the spending of more money to create more politicians,” he said.
He said an alternative would be to move members from the lower house to the upper house to save money and staff.
“This solution is equally flawed, however, as it requires wider electorates that risk the representation of rural communities,” Mr Lauchs said.
Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors today said an upper house is crucial to end the ‘winner-takes-all’ approach of the two major parties in parliament.