Thursday, August 23, 2007

Common Australian Political Myths - We have too many politicians

I am in the process of cooking tea. A view brief first comment on some common Australian political myths that annoy me.

Myth One: We have too many politicians.

We keep seeing this myth played out, most recently by the Queensland Premier. It's easy and popular. The reality is a little different.

In 1902 each Australian was represented by two lower house members, one state and one Federal. The same holds today.

Each local member provides at least three key services.

We expect them to handle our individual queries on Government services and policies. We expect them to look after our individual collective interests in the broader policy debates. And we expect them to make a contribution as MPs to state or national discussion.

Since 1902 the power and prestige of all Parliaments has declined relative to executive government. How could it be otherwise?

The number of voters that each member is meant to represent has grown enormously. The volume of legislation that each members is meant to study ditto. Yes, Parliamentarians have more staff.

But even given this, they can no longer provide the type of service that once I would have expected. There are just too many of us, too few of them.

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