No Qld upper house means poorly thought through legislation

Queensland has too many poorly thought through pieces of legislation, arguably due to the lack of an upper house and the failure of Parliamentary Committees, ruled by the Government of the day, to properly scrutinise legislation. This is clear today, as we have learned the Government is having to rush through changes to local government legislation to ensure Rockhampton residents get to choose their new Mayor after the current Mayor announced her resignation. As reported by the Brisbane Times yesterday:

Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has been accused of “backtracking” on rushed laws to close a door allowing the runner-up in a mayoral election to take the robes if a first-year leader leaves the job.

In one of the first actions of a returned Palaszczuk government, the move would ensure the resignation of Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow on Monday night would instead trigger a byelection, rather than elevating an anti-Adani activist who ran second in the March poll.

The problem arose from a change to the Local Government Act which was designed to discourage Councillors from running in the state election, by requiring any vacancy created by the resignation of a Councillor less than one year into their current term to be filled by the runner up in the last election for their position. Now, due to the unintended consequences of the relevant provision, the Government has to amend it urgently.

Unfortunately, the lack of proper scrutiny of legislation in Queensland leads to some poorly thought through pieces of legislation. I expect many QEW readers can name several pieces of state legislation they loathe, but here are a couple of examples which come to my mind:

As I’ve written many times before, we desperately need to improve the quality of our governance in Queensland (see Deficient Qld state public administration is a major theme of my new book). We should consider reintroducing an upper house or look for some other way of providing oversight of our Parliament and Executive – e.g. via some sort of Committee of the Great and the Good. This is even more important now we have four-year terms.

Queensland Parliament House, corner of Alice St and George St, Brisbane.
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4 Responses to No Qld upper house means poorly thought through legislation

  1. Stephen Thornton says:

    Gene, I agree Queensland needs to re-establish its Upper House. Yes, some people will argue it means legislation often cannot be passed quickly however it does mean more scrutiny. Importantly, it means minor parties can be represented and a diversity of views and debate, in my opinion, invariably leads to better outcomes.

  2. verbatim9 says:

    Do you think that proportional representation (mixed-member proportional) would be a better outcome in Qld than reestablishing the Upper House? NZ has proportional representation which seems to work there with better legislative outcomes.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Hi Andrew, good question. I honestly don’t know. If we can get either, it would be a big improvement. Let me look more into the pros and cons of PR and the NZ experience and try to follow up this post.

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