Renewed suggestions that the NSW Legislative Council should be abolished?

July 16, 2009

I’ve recently heard of suggestions that the NSW Labor Party should reinstitute its previous policy to abolish the NSW Legislative Council. I don’t know if it ever dropped this policy, but it certainly hasn’t tried to implement it since it was elected in 1995.

These suggestions should be resisted. Upper Houses should continue existing and retain their ability to enquire into government activities. While Upper Houses may frustrate the ability of Lower House majorities to implement their policies, they also represent an institutional hedge against Governments being able to do whatever they want.

The Qld experience may be informative – it has been often suggested that the problems that arose in Qld under the Bjelkie-Petersen Government may have been amplified by the lack of an Upper House. While it cannot be known whether an Upper House would have prevented or greatly diminished these problems, it’s likely that an Upper House with an active committee system may have allowed another avenue for airing problems and inquiring into issues.