Westminster style should be scrapped immediately
Some years ago Dame Lois Browne-Evans said in a speech, “People complain about the Westminster system, but the problem is they don’t know how to improve upon it”. Her comments were heartfelt and, after serving a long and distinguished career in Parliament, must be given weighty consideration.
Just like the 16th-century Reformation that was sparked by Martin Luther typified by the 90 items of discontent, which he placed on the door of the Church, similarly I think we can begin the challenge to which Dame Lois eludes by looking squarely at things that we do not like or wish to improve upon.
Admittedly, these issues may not be of concern to everyone, but they are items that I would like to see changed:
1, I do not like that the general public have no hand in the choice of the leader of the country.
2, I do not like that the general public have no hand in the selection of the Senate.
3, I do not like that the general public do not choose who should run for a party.
4, I detest the thought that a small committee of seven or eight called a selection committee determines who can run for a party.
5, I detest that a registered voter cannot or does not have a right to stand for any party of choice and be nominated by his peer constituents.
6, I do not like that after an individual is elected by the constituents, they have no say over the performance or the discipline of the individual, a privilege that belongs to the party.
7. I do not like that as a member of the electorate, I have to wait for the parliamentarian to propose legislation. Should they become derelict in that regard, I as a voting public have no mechanism to cause a motion that will receive a vote in Parliament or cause a binding referendum.
Those are only seven points of discontent that I have with our present political system, and there are more on a functional level. If we fix any of them, and the answers to how are obvious, it will represent a significant departure from the Westminster style.
It indeed may still be called Westminster, but will certainly elevate the power and status of the electorate and renew the process of democratisation.
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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