Australian Conservatives MLC Robert Brokenshire says the South Australian parliament is long overdue for a proper review and the Australian Conservatives policy and list of reforms would make a real difference to South Australia.
Mr Brokenshire told the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper overnight, and South Australian radio stations this morning, that it had been 25 years since there was a proper review of the South Australian Parliament.
“It is time we took a magnifying glass to how we do things in this state. And I am talking about a full review of the way parliament runs - something which needs to go much further than the warm, fuzzy, simplistic headline-grabbing reforms suggested by Mr Xenophon,” Mr Brokenshire said.
“It is time for urgent reform not a simplistic reduction in the number of ministers and MPs – that is just an easy headline grab that may make people nod their heads but which actually achieves little. We need real reform, something we have not seen in SA for a quarter of a century.”
“The parliament and the government of SA used to work better together – much better than we have in the last 10-15 years. Take for example Sir Thomas Playford and how effective he was when he involved the Opposition and his parliament in the decision making. He delivered real results for South Australia and we saw the economy grow, jobs grow and opportunities grow.”
“Australian Conservatives will be demanding the new government work with the whole parliament to review parliamentary procedures in all respects including the interface between parliament and the state government.”
Mr Brokenshire said other areas that would need to be part of any review included:
- Establish a Multipartisan Review Committee. “The committee would report to the whole of parliament one year after the next election and the review would be calling for public submissions as part of the process,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Optional Preferential Voting in the Lower House.
- Two Term Maximums for Premiers – similar to the way presidents serve only two terms in the United States. “Most Premiers return their best dividends in two terms and at the end of the day the office of Premier should be more about the legacy they leave the South Australian Community than the number of years they can hold on to power,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Establish a Rural and Regional Standing Committee. “We need to establish a rural and regional standing committee because South Australian rural and regional people have missed out for too long,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Establish a Privatisation Standing Committee. “We also need a new privatisation standing committee whose purpose would be to scrutinise any proposed sale of state assets worth over $50 million. The committee would have to report on and recommend the sale proposal before it could be considered by the parliament,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Review Standing Committees. “There is a need to review all standing committees as well as review the number of MPs and MLCs in South Australia,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Abolish Paid Parliamentary Secretary Positions. “Importantly we must abolish the number of paid parliamentary secretaries – these positions were brought in under a Labor Government and only came about because Labor was looking for a way to reduce factional infighting. These paid positions are not only unnecessary they are expensive and add to the number of staff and office areas being paid for out of the public purse,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- More Sitting Days. “More sitting hours and more debating time for economic and social issues is paramount as 48 days of sitting does not hold the government of the day up to proper scrutiny,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Introduce Regional Parliaments. “We need two regional parliamentary sittings per term with the whole parliament involved so that rural and regional people and MPs can see how the parliament operates and what happens in regional SA,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Independent Speaker and President. “An independent speaker and president also needs to be part of the review,” Mr Brokenshire said.
- Review the Government Dominance on Committees: “It is questionable whether the best outcomes can occur when the government nominates the chair of the committee and then has a majority of members on there as well. An example of this is the Public Works Committee which should be scrutinising capital works projects more than what happens under the current government,” Mr Brokenshire said.
Mr Brokenshire said it is time real policies with details were available to the public.
“People like Mr Xenophon may be able to deliver a populous and simplistic policy that makes for a good headline but what he has suggested will achieve little if anything in growth or reform opportunities for South Australia.”
“We say there is a better way for South Australia and that is a full review of parliament that results in real change.”