Westminster system needs reform

With his bold bid to jump from City Hall to the Premier’s office, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman is thinking laterally to overcome a major deficiency of the Westminster system, which requires the Government to be formed in the parliament.

Given the hardships of political life and the vicissitudes of party politics, which discourage many good people and reward some bad people, it’s unlikely that the parliament will contain either sides’ best candidates for Ministerial positions. A lot of very good people wouldn’t run for parliament and endure the mud-slinging and the risk of a long boring time in Opposition while they pass up rewarding and enjoyable work opportunities on the outside.

The US system, where the Executive (i.e. the President and the Cabinet) is separate from the Congress (i.e. the US parliament) is a much better system because it means the best people can be brought into the Cabinet, even if they are currently a university president or corporate CEO. This has worked well for both Democrats and Republicans, with first class people such as George Shultz, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers brought into (and back into) the Cabinet from outside government.

Nature abhors a vacuum. If there is a lack of leadership in the Queensland Opposition, then it appears natural that someone from outside the parliament would try to fill it. Mr Newman – who with his positive mental attitude comes across as a modern day Napoleon Hill – may well succeed in his bid for Queensland’s top job. Regardless, we should debate whether our system of government requires reform, so we can get the best people in Queensland into ministerial positions.

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