There are better ways to reform Parliament
THE road to hell is paved with unforced errors. Adopting a unicameral system by abolishing the Legislative Council, as MLC Ivan Dean suggests (The Examiner, August 3) would be one such unnecessary mistake.
Tasmania has a democratic deficit already, and some of weakest political funding laws in the country.
Parliament is unwieldy, and government is a bloated mess of executive power. The lower house is too small, with only 25 members. Of the 13 ruling Liberal MPs, eight hold cabinet positions with a whopping 37 portfolios between them.
A bicameral system offers significant strengths, giving the government some pause for thought, and providing opportunities to limit executive power.
Recently the Liberal government of New South Wales tried and failed to freeze the pay of public sector workers, in a faulty and misguided attempt to mitigate financial losses during the pandemic. They were blocked by the NSW upper house. In Queensland, the Labor government did the same thing and succeeded. Queensland has a unicameral system, which means no review by an upper house, and so no extra accountability.
When the executive wields power beyond the acceptable limitations of a parliamentary democratic system, a single house diminishes democracy and undermines the purposes of an elected system.
There are improvements we can make.
Reduce the MLC terms to fout years, and hold the elections collectively, but separately from the state elections. Independents would have the same room to focus on a single seat, but larger parties would be unable to disproportionately concentrate on one or two areas.
Increasing the number of members in the lower house would enhance the diversity of the lower house and reduce a bloated government, by removing the need for cabinet posts in the upper house. Lower the voting age. This would enhance the diversity of representation and offer young people a voice that is so desperately missing from politics. Finally, we need greater transparency and an end to the influence of big donations. The biggest threat to independence and accountability is the access of vested interests; that means we need tougher anti-lobbying legislation. We can fix the problems of the Legislative Council without abolishing it. Despite the flaws, there is more advantage to a rickety defence of democracy and accountability than none at all. To resolve the flaws, think first about who the upper house is there for – you. A public debate is where the conversation needs to start.
Jack Davenport, Greens candidate.
How democratic preferencing?
HOW democratic is voter preferencing between political parties to mutually benefit the candidates of the parties involved, possibly at the expense of different and divergent viewpoints? With monetary backing of self-interested lobby groups, foundations to obscure the origins of donations, and influential individuals to name a few sources of income, all are shrouded in the facade of the “greater good of the country”.
The ubiquitous “how to vote card” is a lucid example of party machine arrogance toward voters and the voting process, but conversely, in the 2013 Senate federal election, where minor parties were successful due to “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery, reforms to Senate voting was passed in 2016.
Kenneth Gregson, Swansea.
Dying choice and harm
IT IS natural to feel worried about your death. Will it be sudden or lingering, painful or peaceful?
Who will care for me and where? How will I endure having others attending to my bodily needs, all privacy gone? Will it all be a heavy burden on my family?
Used to being in control of our lives, so much uncertainty is unsettling.
To have a choice about what you do and how you do it is always appealing, and especially when someone is suffering at the end of life. It might seem reasonable that they can choose to instruct doctors to administer or provide lethal substances to end it all.
But this is not just about them. Others have to be involved.
There are countless areas of life in which we are restrained from doing what we want because of harm to others.
One significant harm, in this case, is a rearrangement of our society’s attitude to the role of the physician, at a very profound level.
If we accept that a doctor can participate in the deliberate killing of a patient, we create a seismic shift in the way medicine is practised. Doctors do not do their medical training to kill people, but rather to diagnose and treat illness and injury, to restore sick people to health.
We need to be certain that, for the doctor, the focus is on life.
Pat Gartlan, Hobart.
Queensland border closures
THE Queensland premier has closed the borders to NSW and the ACT to try and prevent her state from becoming another Victoria, but why did she allow the AFL players relocate from Victoria?
Added to that is the fact that the families of those players all made a dash to Queensland a week or so ago and have been out and about since.
Surely if they arrived from our most infected state they should at least have had to quarantine for two weeks.
In fact, why allow them in at all? It beggars belief.
Glennis Sleurink, Launceston.
Keeping Tasmanians safe
SO FAR Tasmania is COVID free thanks to everyone’s efforts and the strong stand taken by Premier Peter Gutwein.
To keep Tasmania COVID free all people entering our state should be COVID tested at the point of entry and then if necessary retested four days after the initial test.
Early detection of positive COVID infections would be a wise move.