The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Whither the Senate majority?

Back around the last election, I recall hearing lots of shock and disbelief at the single-seat Senate majority the Liberal Party won courtesy of Mark Latham’s campaign implosion. This was echoed in 2005 when the Senate election took effect, with everyone left-of-centre seeming to be worried about the future.

And indeed, later that year the majority was used to rush through WorkChoices and a couple of other changes (like voluntary student unionism). But since then, there have been remarkably few big-ticket laws, and certainly nothing that took advantage of the opportunity for serious reform in contentious areas like tax (and I don’t mean this frittering with thresholds nonsense).

So there is some truth (and, of course, some falsity) in Team Howard’s claim to have stuck to their promise of using the majority ‘responsibly’, by which they mean in a boring and conservative manner. It’s like they’ve run out of ideas for major change despite having a silver-platter opportunity.

There have been not-well-heard voices pointing to the Government fiddling with procedural matters, like scrapping committees and ignoring amendments. Maybe these will cause the Senate’s role to change, like how it stopped caring about the complaints of State politicians (and even local candidates) in saying “waaaaah Canberra isn’t giving us enough money”.

Or maybe Labor will win the lower house, while the Liberals hold on to their majority, and things will drift back to the way they were.

  1. can you imagine the craphurricane, though, if that happens and the Liberals block the Workchoices repeal?

Care to leave a comment?