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The Rudd Government

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‘Recent Commonwealth Parliaments have confirmed that the ability of governments to implement their mandates is more a function of the will of the Parliament than the will of the people.’

In recent years, the ability for governments to implement their mandates has shifted from being a function of the people’s will to that of parliament’s. A mandate is the authority provided by voters to a successful political party to pursue its policies in parliament. Governments can justify their dominance of the lower house by arguing the will of the people is expressed through elections. The government’s electoral victory produces a ‘majoritarian mandate,’ and gives them the right to implement their policies. In recent years, minor parties who hold the
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The issue of WorkChoices that had been introduced by the Howard government in 2006 was a major issue in the 2007 federal election, with the ALP under Kevin Rudd, vowing to abolish it. The Rudd government after the election repealed the WorkChoices legislation with the passing of the Fair Work Act 2009. During its first term, in 2007, Labor saw several bills blocked or delayed by the combined votes of the opposition and minor parties or the independents within the senate. The Senate rejected bills concerning ‘Alcopops,’ a banking guarantee to shore up property investment, electoral finance reform, and an Emissions Trading scheme. The government in 2009 attempted to introduce the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) but this was blocked by the Coalition and the Greens who believed it did not go far enough in addressing Carbon pollution. The senate only blocked a minority of the Rudd government’s bills, there are several reasons for this, particularly that the ‘balance of power’ Senate forced changes when previously the Senate had been held by a coalition majority. The government during this era had a ‘balance of power’ Senate held by the Greens, independent Nick Xenophon and Family First’s Steve Fielding and a clear majority in the lower house yet they tended to successfully reflect the will of the…show more content…
Firstly, a government’s claim to a majoritarian mandate can reduce Australian politics to an ‘electoral democracy.’ The opposition might be able to criticise government policy but according to this theory they have no right to amend, block or delay government legislation. This reduces the role of members of parliament, pressure groups and the media to simply channel public opinion. Broader participation in the political process is limited by the government’s claim to an all-powerful mandate. Furthermore, in recent parliaments, the will of the government has been frustrated by the parliament. However, it is because of this fact it can be argued parliament produces better legislation due to poor legislation being blocked. Australia’s two-party dominance, reflecting the majority of people’s will in the lower house has been proven effective and the Senate that is designed to act as the ‘house of review’ is an effective check on the people’s will. Despite this, the ‘review’ function of the senate is becoming increasingly a reflection of the ‘will of the parliament’ and this is contributing to parliament becoming dysfunctional. The Turnbull government hopes to resolve this through a double dissolution later this
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