Giving the houses a timely democratic makeover

by Susan Harris Rimmer in The Canberra Times
Originally published in The Canberra Times on February 12, 2008

The dawn of the new 42nd Parliament is a rare chance to draw a line under certain practices of the previous decade of Parliament, practices that had undermined some of the basic tenets of parliamentary democracy. The new tone has to be set from the outset. What precisely was wrong with our old Parliament? In essence, it has not been a place where ideas or legislation have been open for robust debate. Decisions were made by the Executive in private and Parliament served as a piece of hollow theatre to progress party political concerns in public, instead of serving as the accountability mechanism it was intended to be.

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