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Why the State of Queensland is always singled out?

My politics lecturer told me that a week in politics can sometimes feel like a year in reality.

Justin Jackson Monday 3 June 2012

My politics lecturer told me that a week in politics can sometimes feel like a year in reality.

Those words have stuck with me ever since February 2011.

The past few months in Queensland has certainly reaffirmed my theory that politics just drag on with no positive actions from both the Liberal National Party and the Australian Labor Party.

One fine example would have to be the Member for Redcliffe, Scott Driscoll. What really fascinated me was that ever since he quit the LNP back in March; Driscoll is yet to take his spot on the crossbench as an Independent. Yes there are many investigations going on, including two parliamentary probes (one carried out by the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commission headed by Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham; and the other carried out by Clerk of Parliament Neil Laurie into Parliamentary Ethics) the CMC and Queensland Police, so why hasn’t Driscoll faced the music and owned up to his actions as a MP?

After researching through both the Queensland Parliament Acts and referring to my textbooks on politics, it has been noticed that section 72 Queensland Parliament Act 2001, which states ‘that the member must vacate the seat if he/she cannot commit to their constituents within 21 days of being elected,’ does not get scrutinised enough by either side of politics. 21 days of missing a sitting day can equal up to 7 months without doing the job and still get paid a wage, where does it stop?

Of course falling ill (or so Driscoll claims but we haven’t heard from him since he quit in March) is no one’s fault and we can’t help it, but if I was to skip work for even just a week without a legitimate reason, my boss would certainly fire me on the spot.

Perhaps it’s time to reduce the wavering period to just a week (3 sitting days) before an explanation to the Speaker is required. It is important that all members across the parliament work in bipartisan support to tackle this issue immediately.

Another example of why Queensland is singled out from the rest of the States in Australia is that they all have an upper house (Legislative Council) whereas we don’t. Labor abolished the house in 1922 because they couldn’t pass the laws they wanted to push through. Fast forward almost 90 years; it has now become a major problem as both parties (in the past 10 years) have (or have had) a majority in the Legislative Assembly.

Many suggestions have gone around that the number of MPs should be cut from the lower house, to re-constitute the Legislative Council. It’s a “State’s House,” so it’s necessary to have scrutinising of all legislations being sent from the lower house. Why not follow Victoria’s lead and cut the Legislative Assembly in half or by a third and have those members serve as members of the Legislative Council and mirror the lower house slightly.

For example: cut the 89 MPs by 29 seats and you still have 60 MP left to serve Queensland with 29 members to form the upper house. Another formulated idea to save even more money, widen each electorate so that 40 seats can be cut and still have 89 MPs altogether (49 in the lower house and 40 in the upper house), making the number of seats to form government a lot easier (25 seats to form government).

Of course, this is just my opinion as a political student, so it really doesn’t matter. If the government is serious about stopping corruption, this idea may be useful, but it must first go to a referendum so Queenslanders can decide, whether or not to re-constitute the Legislative Council back into the Parliament constitution.

In conclusion, Queensland has always been singled out from the rest of Australia (not the Territories as they only have one House of Parliament) and it’s time that honesty and integrity is returned to Queensland once again. Remember, one week in politics can sometimes feel like a year in reality.

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Justin is a third year university student at the University of the Sunshine Coast, studying Law as a major and Politics as a minor.

This article was written completely with no indication of supporting a party and only to further understanding the world of politics in Australia in his studies.

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Justin Jackson

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