The Federal Senate is the powerhouse of Australia’s democracy. However, our federal government is formed by people elected to the Lower House. Yet it is the elected into the Upper House, our Senators, that hold the real power!
To get good policies passed, the senate must be diverse. That’s the Reason I’m running for a senate seat to represent Victorians!
Our Senate is a powerful instrument. It has legislative powers equal to that of the Lower House, but it also has the power to review and seek amendments to proposed legislation pushed down from the Lower House. In fact, the Australian Senate is widely considered to be one of the most powerful legislative upper houses in the world.
Senators have power regardless of whether they are in a minor or a major party. For example, in 1989 Senator Janet Powell introduced a private members Bill to ban cigarette advertising in all print media. Senator Powell was a member of the Australian Democrats.
A few Democrats sat on the Senate crossbench but did not have a single seat in the Lower House.
Senator Powell’s bill took on the huge and influential multinational tobacco industry. By using her position of influence, the Democrats helped create a law that was for the benefit of society. Senator Powell was not a member of the governing party, nor of the opposition; but as a Senator she had the power to make significant changes that continue today and helped save the lives of millions.
For another example, closer to home, we can look at the Victorian Upper House, the Legislative Assembly, where Fiona Pattern, the founder of the Reason party, has demonstrated how much influence one person can have with her many achievements.
Through negotiation and collaboration, Fiona has achieved what no other politician has; that is why the media has apologised and named her the most effective legislator in our parliaments. Fiona has campaigned and championed many causes.
Reasons’ many wins show that diversity in the Senate is good for voters. Having a large number of members sitting on the crossbench in the Senate helps drive and shape legislation that is based on evidence, not just the governing parties’ ideology.
Additionally it is the Senate where review of legislations are done, where real debate takes place, where political parties can be scrutinised by committees by members from all sides of politics.
The role of committees is to investigate and to draw attention to the government. Senators also throw ‘light in dark corners’ and discuss how people should be made accountable and ensure tax-payers money is not wasted.
For our democracy to survive, we need Reasonable people in our Senate, people that can get the right answers with informed questions.
Before you vote on May 21, think about the people you will give your power to in the Senate, remember six new senators will pass our laws for the next six years!