Simplified representation brings stability

Crikey readers are still talking knights and dames, plus the benefits of single-member electorates and whether commenting on hosties' hair is sexist.

The case for single-member electorates Kim Nolan writes: Re. "Imagine there were proportional representation in your parliament ..." (yesterday). Though Matthew Brown correctly identifies plenty of the unrepresentative aspects of single-member electorates, he doesn't address what is, to my mind, the most compelling argument in its favour: Stability. Regardless of actual government performance there's little doubt, especially when looking at the current arrangement of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the perceived chaos of the last federal parliament, that voters, on the whole, are not particularly receptive to minority government. Thankfully, they usually don't need to be, because in contemporary Australia this system of single-member electorates lends itself to unified and stable government with ease. Although 2010 gave us the first hung Parliament in 70 years, by my rough count, the more proportional and representative Senate has only had four clear majorities since the '60s. Go ahead and iron out the quirks of Australia's upper houses, but the simplified representation of the House of Reps isn't a bug, it's a feature. We don't need a motion to find sexism, we need a mirror ... Susannah Thelander writes: Re. "Tips and rumours" (yesterday). Directly above the "tip" regarding the Australian Sports Party in today’s email was a similarly sexist and spiteful comment about the capability of one company’s cabin staff. It’s a bit rich to be commenting on someone else’s sexism when you have just made a comment about the "good-looking 23-year-olds who looked like they spent all their time on their hair and wouldn’t be much help in an emergency". Since when did what you look like have anything to do with how good you are at something, Ms Tips? Airs and graces Peter Ridgewell writes: Re. "Crikey says: arise, the republican hypocrites?" (Friday). The sad thing about this knighthoods for governors-general debacle is the damage it does to the office of governor-general. If there is one way to put people off-side in this country, it is to put on airs and graces -- and one of the best ways to do that is to call yourself sir this or dame that. Abbot's smart-arse move has immediately distanced the GG from the Australian people.  Perhaps that was his intention. The alarming thing is that both Bryce and Cosgrove were silly enough to accept the titles.

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4 thoughts on “Simplified representation brings stability

  1. John McCombe

    re Proportional Representation: I think Kim Nolan has fallen into the Canberra Press orthodoxy that minority governments are unstable. There are many western European governments that have been negotiated coalitions for decades. Think Germany, France, the Scandanavians, Holland etc. And New Zealand, not a pure PR example but a pretty good start, seems to have survived MMP.
    Matthew Brown can add another item to his list of problems with single members electorates: In that race between the two entrenched parties for those final preferences the parties tend towards the centre, blurring, or even dropping any difference between them. Remember that the preferential system gives us the least disliked candidate, having eliminated the most disliked, then the next most et seq. So the breadth of the policy spectrum is narrowed in public debate, and new ideas, those not squeezed in between the major parties, find it harder to get a hearing. Just ask the ABC about the howls that greet broadcast of any view not jammed in between those of the majors. PR might enable alternative political, economic, social views to get a public voice. We would all be better off.

  2. marant

    Simplified [mis]Representation Brings Stability, says Kim Nolan. How about the repeal of the Carbon tax, the fringe benefits mess, the mining tax, “Fair Work” Australia, etc. Anyway, who wants progress when they can have stability. Holden in the 1800s made much better saddles than they did motorcars in the 2000s.
    I suggest Kim has a look at some European countries, such as Switzerland to see what representative democracy looks like. We don’t have it here.

  3. Don

    Re improvements to method of voting and electing.

    i won’t go into a wide discourse on most aspects of this discussion, but a coupe of points

    it has long seemed both highly illogical and inequitable for 1st preference votes to transfer their initial full unity value to non-1st preference allocation

    surely on the grounds of equity and logic, a 2nd preference should not be considered equal in value to a 1st preference vote and so on.

    how on earth should someone’s 10th preference (say) still maintain its full 1st preference value??? at that point, or way before, the person voting probably doesn’t even like that candidate or want to vote for them!!

    why not a simple and easy mathematical inversion? 2nd pref = 1/2 vote, 3rd 1/3 vote, 4th 1/4 vote, etc

    surely that far far more accurately reflects the voter’s own inclination, and meets both the logical and equity objectives of a vote.

  4. Gavin Moodie

    I read somewhere that the retiring and incoming governors general had no choice about their imperial titles: convention required them to accept their prime minister’s advice. Bryce could have got out of it by resigning early and Cosgrove by not accepting the gig with that condition. But that would have required both republicans to elevate principle above their self interest.

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