Current parliamentary systems provide legislative and executive capability but do not strike a perfect balance of representing the will of the people, while providing effective and efficient government.
There has been an ebb and flow for generations in opinion about the forms and benefits of legislative bicameralism and the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government.
A parliamentary system should:
Represent the will of the people by providing a forum in which the various views of the electorate can be presented with appropriate weight;
Provide reasonable legislative review that resists arbitrary change and limits any tyranny;
Deliver an effective Executive.
A solution has never been implemented that appropriately balances these interlocking requirements, here is a suggestion.
A bicameral parliament is the only demonstrated mechanism that provides sufficient legislative review within a democracy. The composition, size and responsibilities of the two houses needs to be determined.
The Will of the People
The will of the people should be manifested through a legislative assembly that best represents the different and complex viewpoints of the electorate. To achieve this representation, the legislative assembly should be constructed utilising proportional representation and preferential balloting.
It is clear from Senate elections in Australia that 12 representatives in an electoral district is too few to overcome the inertia of the major parties, and from Knesset elections in Israel that 120 is far too many. A balance needs to be struck that permits minority viewpoints to be heard without paralysing the legislative process.
The Role of Women in the Political Process
Although universal suffrage swept most of the democratic world early last century, essentially every aspect of political process from pre-selection through election to the operation of parliament has been designed and developed by men competing with other men. When women run for public office they do not share a level playing field in this mans game, and the female public by and large only have the opportunity to vote for which male should represent them.
To fully enfranchise women I propose (a) that the legislative assembly consist of equal numbers of men and women; and (b) that election should be gender-specific - men should vote for men and women for women.
There is a valid line of logic that a government needs a mandate, and pretty much any mandate is better than no mandate at all. To achieve this, systems for electing executive positions typically disavow proportional representation and electorates have one member and may not provide preferential balloting.
If the legislative assembly inherently represents the will of the people through proportional representation, then executive power - the role of government (including opposition) - should be vested in the Senate, with an electoral system that ensures that at any given time it should be dominated by one of the major parties.
The Composition of the Legislative Assembly
The total electorate should be divided into five regions of equal population, divided as much as possible between dissimilar interests, such as urban versus rural and regional Australia; and haves versus have nots. The regions need not be physically contiguous.
Each electoral region should elect 30 representatives, 15 men and 15 women, for a total of 150. Voting should be by preferential balloting, providing the opportunity for minority viewpoints to be heard where they represent more than 6% of generally held opinion.
A Legislative Bill should obviously require a majority of votes to pass, however a discussion would be worthwhile to analyse if an absolute majority or a 60%-or-so super-majority would be an improvement over the more usual relative majority.
The Composition of the Senate
Each state and territory should divide their total electorate by the number of allocated Senate seats to elect one representative in each region. Preferential balloting should be utilised to allow for gradual change in the balance of power between several major parties.
To maximise effectiveness a Senate Bill would require a relative majority of 50% to pass.
This proposed political structure incorporates only a small number of subtle changes to the current Australian system, with significant potential benefits. Attempting to implement them at a federal level would require a constitutional amendment to be proposed by a Government and then accepted by the people through a referendum. With no established precedent that is virtually impossible.
State and territory legislatures offer a more suitable proving ground since, within some limits, changes can be instituted through legislation alone and have far less reaching effects.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.