Enhancing democracy – it’s more than just reducing the number of MPs

South Australians are poorly served by a State Parliament in desperate need of reform to make it more accountable, according to Green SA Parliamentary Leader, Mark Parnell MLC.

“Cutting the number of MPs may be popular, but there is an even better opportunity to strengthen our democracy – by introducing proportional representation into the lower house.

“Introducing “multi-member electorates” so that parties are represented in Parliament according to the proportion of the vote they receive, is far more democratic.  Under this system, you have a smaller number of larger electorates, each with say 7 MPs. 

“Already, over a third of voters prefer parties other than Liberal and Labor, yet the rules are stacked against those preferences delivering representatives in Parliament.  A new proportional system would be more democratic and works well in a number of other countries as well is the ACT and Tasmania.

“South Australians deserve more from their MPs, however just cutting the numbers won’t make the remainder work any harder or improve the quality of decision-making.  In fact it could make it worse with a reduced pool of representatives to provide Ministers or to hold those Ministers to account.  The ability to hold inquiries into important issues such as South Australia’s energy future or turning our State into a nuclear waste dump, will be reduced if we don’t have enough MPs to do the work.

“The Greens want to see any decision on MP numbers tied to voting reforms, bans on corporate political donations, increased accountability and an overhaul of the archaic way that Parliament works, which is a complete mystery to most South Australians. 

“Ordinary citizens would be horrified to discover that important legislation is often rammed through Parliament without any consultation or any opportunity for experts to be heard.  Reforming the Parliamentary Committee system so that MPs are forced to listen to the community and to outside experts before voting on legislation, is another over-due form”, concluded Mark Parnell.