Because Queensland is the only State Parliament without the checks and balances of an Upper House, the Australian Christian Lobby is urging a ‘no’ vote at this weekend’s referendum on four year parliamentary terms.
ACL QLD Director Wendy Francis said while the ACL supports the concept of four-year terms, it did not support it in this case because of the unique unicameral or one-chamber parliament in Queensland.
“A government with four years and no scrutiny of its legislation by an Upper House will have too much power,” Ms Francis said.
“We are the only State without an Upper House to review laws or hold government’s to account. Our parliamentary committee system is meant to provide us with a level of scrutiny and questioning of government legislation and decisions but even this in its current form does not have sufficient authority.
“It is interesting to note that the Parliamentary Committee that recommended a move to four-year terms also recommended that this change be accompanied by a strengthening of the parliamentary committee system.
“Yet the Bill we will vote on does not even address the shortfalls in the current parliamentary committee process which were identified by the committee.
“The Westminster system is designed to have checks and balances on power. Queenslanders have used the three-year electoral cycle to achieve this but an unpopular government with a big majority and four year terms could lead to an abuse of executive power,” Ms Francis said.
“Academics have suggested ways of restoring an upper house to Queensland without increasing the number of politicians. Reform of the parliamentary term length should not be considered in isolation to restoration of an upper house,” she said.