The constitutional choices made by the framers of the Australian Constitution delineated the political character of members of the Senate. The provision for direct election of senators made them the representatives of the people rather than the appointees of any other body. The provisions for a six-year fixed term for senators and for elections by rotation provided the opportunity for senators to have a greater degree of independence from the executive government. The provisions for each state to elect senators by voting as one electorate and for the equal representation of the states gave senators a wider representative capacity than members for local constituencies. Developments since 1901 have also significantly affected the character of senators as representatives. The introduction of proportional representation for Senate elections in 1949 made senators as a group more representative of the range of opinions in the community. The establishment in 1970 of a comprehensive committee system in the Senate provided senators with greater opportunity for productive interaction with the people through committee inquiries and hearings.
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