BCA Call for Balance in Senate Debate

The Business Council of Australia said today it supported the proposed review of the Senate and called on all parties to debate the issue objectively.

BCA Chief Executive, Ms Katie Lahey, said business hoped debate would take place within the context of Australia’s broad interests rather than narrow self-interest.

“The pattern of legislation, especially that aimed at achieving sustainability in government spending and programs, being stymied or deadlocked at Senate level – in some cases for years – is a real concern,” Ms Lahey said.

“We believe the review is warranted and that debate should be objective, focusing on what is good for Australia, rather than what is good for particular sectional or political interests.”

Ms Lahey said the BCA awaited the government’s discussion paper on proposed reform mechanisms with interest and would actively participate in the public debate.

“Any discussion needs to recognise as a first principle, the fundamental importance of the Senate’s review status,” she said.

“Yet we also need to accept that parts of our constitutional framework designed a century ago may not have the same relevance today, or have had consequences or outcomes not originally intended.”

The BCA accepted the position that invoking a double dissolution to resolve impasses between the two houses of federal Parliament needed to be reviewed.

“We recognise the federal government is talking about moderate reform and the review is not about emasculating the role of minor parties or their representation in the Senate.

“At the same time, in a world in which the pace of change and need for proactive reform is increasing, Australia requires processes of law making able to respond quickly and effectively to change.”