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Discussion paper

This paper identifies over 40 possible democratic reforms for the 47th Parliament to consider after it is elected this year. The reforms are across seven areas:

  1. Parliamentary business: How the two chambers (the House of Representatives and the Senate) conduct themselves and set the agenda for sitting weeks.
  2. Working conditions in Parliament: The conditions under which parliamentary staffers work and the day-to-day operation of Parliament.
  3. Use of parliamentary powers: Existing powers that the Parliament could exercise to ensure the better operation of Australia’s Government.
  4. Restraints on government: Reforms that would limit the Government’s power or reveal more information about decisions it has made and the reasons behind those decisions.
  5. Accountability: How existing accountability institutions could be resourced and protected from undue influence, to better scrutinise the government; and new institutions that could provide further scrutiny.
  6. Elections: Reforms to electoral law that would make elections operate more fairly and smoothly.
  7. Constitutional reform: Two amendments to the Australian Constitution that would make double dissolution elections fairer and address the inappropriate and vague limitations in section 44 on who can serve as a parliamentarian.

A final section identifies other possibilities for democratic reforms, in less detail.

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