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Time to Restore the Numbers in Parliament

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 9 September 2016

Tags: Democracy, Governance, House of Assembly Restoration, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader 

The Greens welcome the calls from the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to restore the numbers in the Tasmanian Parliament.

This is a breakthrough in the campaign to restore the number to 35 seats following the Liberal and Labor Parties colluding to shaft the Greens in 1998 by cutting the numbers to 25. 

The consequence of that highly political and vindictive move was to shrink the Parliamentary talent pool and diminish the quality of debates and legislative outcomes in the House.

The TCCI have highlighted the reduced Ministerial capacity because of the number of portfolios, as well as the lack of talent. This is certainly true of the current Parliament, which has seen a high turnover of Ministers and a Premier who must look behind him at the dwindling backbench wondering what on Earth he will do should another Minister resign or fall.

For example, Premier Hodgman really has had to scratch around for talent, after first Paul Harriss’s sudden and surprise resignation then Adam Brooks losing his portfolio over misleading Parliament.  It’s led to an ‘every child wins a prize’ scenario, with almost every MP on the Liberals’ thinning backbench being given a Ministry, Parliamentary Secretary or Committee role.

In the lead up to the 2010 State election, all three party leaders committed in writing to restoring the numbers in the State Parliament, including now-Premier Hodgman.

The Liberals cynically walked away from the commitment shortly after the election, saying they would wait for more fruitful budget times.

The Treasurer has been proclaiming the State's Budget as 'back in the black' since May. It's time the Premier honoured his pre-2010 commitment.  He must know there are members of his own Parliamentary Party who want to see the House restored to 35 seats.

Hare-Clark was designed to be truly representative of the voters’ will, to have a broader pool of MPs from which to choose Ministers in the interests of good governance and democratic process.

It's time the Tasmanian Parliament was restored to its original and intended size.