When Europeans first encountered the platypus they considered it to be an implausible bundle of contradictions. They acknowledged, however, that it was superbly adapted to its environment. In this book Stanley Bach argues that the Australian Parliament, with its borrowings from both the British and American experience, is a bundle of ‘seemingly inconsistent and even incompatible elements’ which, nevertheless, join together ‘to make a political system that works’.
Topics covered in this book include: the design and operation of Australia’s system of government, an analysis of the confrontation between the Senate and the House of Representatives in 1975, proposals for parliamentary reform, the republic debate, minority parties and the balance of power, mandate theory, accountability and responsible government.
“This is a very important book . . . an essential read for anyone who wants to be fully informed about the contemporary Senate. Dr Bach has produced an informed, outsider’s view of our system, uninfluenced by the partisan politics that affects much of the current debate about whether the Senate is 'obstructive’. His analysis of the idea of mandates will provide a useful corrective to much of the debate we are going to have about the Senate’s role.”
“As debates about the role and powers of the Senate unfold, this pioneering survey of its history and operations will prove a fundamental resource as well as a repository of shrewd judgement.”
Ian Marsh, Australian National University
“This is the best book written on an Australian political institution for a very long time. Written in a lively style, it combines a systematic examination of how the Senate actually operates with a lucid analysis of the literature on the federal parliament and a
presentation of detailed research on the way politics is played in the Senate. Best of all, it makes deft use of international comparison and the author’s skills as a political scientist to pursue its central theme that the role of the Senate has become a distinctively Australian contribution to the repertoire of representative democracy.”
Campbell Sharman, University of British Columbia
Written by Dr Stanley Bach
Published by the Department of the Senate, Canberra 2003
Length: 391 pages
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