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the need for political parties (Read 17009 times)
freediver
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #15 - Apr 4th, 2007 at 11:23am
 
That last point is a good one.

The 1977 thing is a 'minor detail,' and was the only way to codify the selection of someone with a similar ideology.
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Shithouse Rat
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #16 - Apr 7th, 2007 at 10:23pm
 
It probably is a "minor detail", but remember how the minor detail of the preamble became a major issue for some people. In the hands of fanatics any symbolic change, such as explicitly recognizing political parties, might take on some kind of wider significance.
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #17 - Apr 7th, 2007 at 11:13pm
 
...and yes, I'll also confess to being a fanatic on that point Embarrassed

Despite my belief that political parties have to be tolerated in a democracy. I think political fundraising should be closely regulated to ensure transparency, and I certainly do not think parties should have any special privileges, such as constitutional recognition.

I really dislike the 1977 amendments. I think things worked out OK in 1975 - in the end - ideological succession deserves no protection. This just entrenches the exact problem most folks are identifying in this thread - the overly partisan nature of the parliament. The less effective parties are at protecting and electing their members, the less the members will feel bound to their parties. Less partisanship, not more, would have produced a much better result in 1975.

Political parties in the US are much less partisan, with moderates frequently crossing the floor on important votes. I think this is a result of keeping the Executive branch more clearly distinct from the legislature. There is not so much at stake when a vote fails to carry. The government can't fall, etc. I agree with your earlier point, freediver, that our system is in a sense more accountable, precisely because the executive is more vulnerable in the parliament. The trade-off is a more rigidly partisan parliament, which nullifies that advantage, and effectively stifles meaningful debate in the house. Polarisation has been increasing in the US congress in recent years, a phenomenon which has been of great interest to both major parties there.

I like the US model better overall, and think we should adopt the US constitution, pretty much intact as far as is possible, when we become a republic. That way we can make full use of the precedents and experience the US has accumulated while still retaining the ability to fine tune it to our needs later, if necessary.
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #18 - Apr 8th, 2007 at 4:18am
 
I agree with your earlier point, freediver, that our system is in a sense more accountable, precisely because the executive is more vulnerable in the parliament. The trade-off is a more rigidly partisan parliament, which nullifies that advantage, and effectively stifles meaningful debate in the house.

I was referring more the power of minor parties under our system. I suspect that the different levels of obediance to the parties in the US and Australia is a reation to the power of minor parties, which is a direct result of preferential voting. The American people are sick of being stuck with only two parties and so don't punish people who cross the floor because the parties mean far less. Australian parties are on much more tenuous ground, but the greater choice means that the people who vote for parties expect members to vote along party lines.
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #19 - Apr 13th, 2007 at 9:42pm
 
I'm not sure that it is the voters who are so quick to punish floor-crossers in Australia, rather it is the party machines themselves. I think voters actually respect mavericks who are able to craft a reputation for independent thinking. Moderates in the US play on this as a strength. Even in Australia, politicians like Barnaby Joyce like to talk up the image, but are unable to walk the walk when it counts. Perhaps in Australia politicians are just too dependent on party support if they are to have a chance of getting elected. My impression is that in the US it is usually the parties which chase the candidates, whereas in Australia it is usually the candidates which chase the parties.
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #20 - Apr 14th, 2007 at 2:01am
 
With so many more parties in Australia it is hard to come up with a coherent set of policies that doesn't match a party, and if you do you will soon find a party forming behind you. In the US you are either a member of the two major parties or you don't get elected, so party membership is far less an indication of ideology.
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Re: the need for political parties
Reply #21 - Aug 3rd, 2007 at 6:28pm
 
Political parties create an extra level of accountability that independents cannot achieve. There are a lot more people who will suffer if an individual MP goes a bit looney. Thus party endorsement typically involves a more detailed check of a person's ability than most members of the public could engage in for independent candidates. The party system creates a mechanism for removing people from positions of power (ie ministers) if it becomes necessary, without the need for another election, complex constitutional proceedures or blame shifting.

All of this comes at little real cost, because individual MP's will leave their party and form new coalitions, cross the floor or become more independent if the old party structure fails. As soon as the people genuinely want this, it will be in the interest of individual MP's to do so. This actually happens quite often in countries where the electoral system encourages corrupt, incompetent old boys clubs (ie the US). The strength of our political parties in Australia is not a result of an unfair advantage our system gives them, but a result of a system that allows the public to hold political parties accountable. Only the strong, effective parties survive and the Australian voting public can get rid of a party far more seamlessly than in the US if they fail to serve the public interest.
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