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Born-again believer in checks and balances

November 29th, 2002

Federal Liberal MP and party heavyweight Petro Georgiou says that a Labor landslide (giving Bracks control of both houses) poses a threat to democracy, by removing checks and balances. He’s right but it’s pretty breathtaking hypocrisy from a member of a government that has routinely claimed a mandate for absolute power on the basis of 40 per cent of the vote and complained about Senate obstructionism. And Jeff Kennett did his best to destroy every check and balance that got in his way. To say that if Bracks gets the same power that Kennett had, ‘the first casualty will be responsible, accountable government in our state’ displays more hide than Jessie the elephant.

Moreover, the only reason this is possible at all is because the Victorian Liberals have been so determined to protect their gerrymandered majority in the Legislative Council. They could easily have negotiated reform along proportional representation lines to produce an upper house where neither major party could get a majority (unless it won a majority of the votes). Now it looks as if Labor will win and be able to write its own rules.

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