Challenges to the Concept and Practice of Political Representation in Australia

Research Paper 28 1998-99

Dr Gianni Zappalà
Politics and Public Administration Group
29 June 1999


Major Issues


Approaches to Representation

General Theories

System-wide Approaches to Representation

Normative Theories of Representation

The Way Forward


Major Issues

In the 1990s candlelit vigils were held outside the NSW Parliament where debate on the Homosexual Vilification Bill climaxed in wild scenes in the Legislative Council and Christian fundamentalist, Fred Nile, fought the last moves in hospital pyjamas. Meanwhile major newspapers were supporting the idea of reserved seats for indigenous Australians. In 1998, Australia's first significant 'ethnic' party, Unity, was created and the following year elected its first representative, Dr Peter Wong, to the NSW Legislative Council. In South Australia, the use of quotas was resulting for the first time in a Parliamentary Labor Party that was almost half women.

Political representation has become increasingly complex and contentious, in part, due to the success of social movements in raising demands for the fairer representation of 'groups' or 'identities' that were previously discounted, such as those based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and disability. The rise of the new social movements has gone hand in hand with several other complementary trends that have posed ever greater challenges to traditional notions of political representation in Australia. For instance, the decline of voter identification with the major parties, the rise of minor parties and independents and the decline in the importance of geography to political representation.

This paper aims to provide an introduction to and synthesis of some of the key issues and ideas that arose from a workshop that examined the impact and challenges that particular social movements have posed for political representation in Australia. Discussion is structured according to the three main approaches to political representation that can be identified in the literature:

  • General theories of representation

Issues discussed under general theories of representation include the influential work of Anne Phillips in the Politics of Presence. Phillips argues that we alter our interpretation of representation from a framework based on the 'politics of ideas' (representing citizens' opinions and policy preferences) to one based on the 'politics of presence' (difference being physically present in legislatures). This has particular implications when seen in conjunction with the decline in a politics of mandates.

  • System-wide approaches to representation

System-wide approaches to political representation dominate discussions and debates in Australia. The last few years have seen calls by both major political parties for reform of the Senate because of it being supposedly 'unrepresentative'. Changes to political institutions and electoral systems, however, must be constitutionally valid, and thus this section first examines the role of the High Court as interpreter of the constitutional principle of representation.

System-wide approaches to political representation tend to focus on the degree to which the composition of parliaments 'mirror' various groups in the wider population. In the Australian context, most debate has occurred with respect to the representation (or lack thereof) of indigenous people from non-English speaking background (NESB), Australians and women, and some of the key issues in this debate are examined.

Another key challenge to the 'system of representation' in Australia is the increasing popular distrust of its key institutions, such as political parties and electoral systems. A consequence of this distrust and distance between the elected and electors, is the canvassing of mechanisms such as Citizen Initiated Referenda (CIR) that reduce the power of elected representatives and by-pass the parliament. The reasons for the popularity of CIR as well as its dangers are highlighted.

Popular distrust is also evident in relation to the bodies that mediate between citizens and representative assemblies, namely the various peak bodies and non-government organisations (NGOs) that seek to represent the interests of the poor, the elderly, the young and so on. Since 1996, the legitimacy of peak group involvement in the policy-making arena has come under challenge. Some of the key debates that surround the role of peak bodies as intermediaries in the representational process are examined.

  • Normative theories of representation

Normative theories of representation are concerned with the functions of an elected representative. Should elected representatives be free to act in the manner they think best serves the national interest (the trustee), or should they rather be an agent for their constituents and act and vote according to their constituents' interests (the delegate)? As well as discussing some of the key findings from this approach, the relationship to the changing role of political parties is also examined.

The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the options available to improve the political representation of groups that traditionally have been under-represented. These are discussed with reference to political parties, electoral reform, reserved seats, the bureaucracy and international organisations.


Hundreds of women demonstrated their support outside the Indian Parliament for a Bill that would require that one-third of all seats in regional State assemblies and the lower house of the national parliament be reserved for women. Inside MPs traded blows over the introduction of the proposed legislation.(1)

In 1994, the NSW State parliament debated legislation for homosexuals:

Eight months it took to get the Homosexual Vilification Bill through the NSW Parliament. Candlelit vigils were held in Macquarie Street while MPs debated verses of the Bible with as much attention to detail as clauses of the bill. Complex tactical bastardry in both houses produced days of chaos climaxing in wild scenes in the Legislative Council where Fred Nile fought the last rounds in hospital pyjamas.(2)

In preparation for the March 1999 NSW State election, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party announced its first Aboriginal candidate for the NSW central coast seat of Wyong.(3)

'Aboriginal seats offer to enhance democracy: there can be no reconciliation without representation'.(4) During 1998 and 1999, at least three major Australian newspapers have supported the idea of reserved seats for indigenous Australians in various State, Territory and Federal parliaments.

In response to the creation of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, 1998 saw the creation of Australia's first significant 'ethnic' party, Unity.

One could easily continue with similar snippets from Australia and around the world on the changing times of and challenges to political representation. Political representation is both a fairly straightforward concept and also quite slippery. There is little consensus amongst political scientists on its meanings and the typologies put forward to discuss it. Different theories of democracy, for instance, often support alternative concepts of representation. There is on the other hand consensus on the centrality and importance of political representation to society and its systems of governance. It is variously described as a key activity, a lifeline or linchpin that connects the citizenry to the government. Discussing political representation is also complicated because it links the governed with the government through various intermediary mechanisms such as different systems of democracy, different electoral systems, the machinations of political parties, bureaucracies, peak bodies and, in more recent times, social movements.

A key challenge to political representation has come from the success that the social movements of earlier decades have had in raising demands for the fairer representation of 'groups' or 'identities' that were previously discounted, such as those based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and disability. Ian Marsh has documented how the rise of 'interest groups' and 'issue movements' in Australia has challenged traditional norms of representation such as the dominance of the two-party system.(5)

The rise of the new social movements has gone hand in hand with several other complementary trends that have posed greater challenges to traditional notions of political representation in Australia. To list the most well known:

  • the decline in voter identification with the two major parties, with now just over half of the electorate always voting for the same party(6)
  • the changing social base of mass parties (a theme returned to below)
  • the parties have lost their agenda development role but rather acted as brokers for issue movements(7)
  • the loss of capacity of the major parties to aggregate the varied interests raised by social movements(8)
  • the rise of 'post-materialist' voting(9)
  • the decline in political party membership(10)
  • the rise of non-traditional parties, minor parties and independents (e.g. The Australian Democrats, The Greens, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, Unity),(11) and
  • the decline in the importance of geography to politics and representation. We know things have changed when a Labor Shadow Minister can write that Labor party members should be able to 'form branches around any theme compatible with party objectives, rather than just geographic location'.(12)

These developments have not only facilitated the shift from a politics of ideas to a politics of presence (see below) but suggest the inability of current institutions to deal with such pressures.

Wishing to examine the impact and challenges that particular social movements have posed for political representation in Australia, Professor Marian Sawer, together with the author, organised a workshop on Representation: Theory and Practice in Australian Politics, sponsored by the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences and the Reshaping Australian Institutions Project, held at the Australian National University in December 1998. We commissioned papers from leading scholars in their fields to examine both the concepts of political representation as well as how particular groups were faring in terms of political representation.(13) A common thread and starting point for the workshop were the ideas put forward by Anne Phillips in her book, The Politics of Presence (see below). (14)

This paper aims to provide an introduction to and synthesis of some of the key issues and ideas that arose from the workshop papers and discussion. The paper aims also to, in one sense, provide a conclusion and summing up of those ideas but, in another sense, to provide a point of departure to encourage further discussion and debate amongst practitioners and the wider public on how the process of political representation can better meet the demands of the next century.

Approaches to Representation

Much of the literature on political representation can be divided into three broad categories:

  • general theories of representation, usually of a philosophical bent(15)
  • system-wide approaches to representation, that usually focus on the impact of electoral systems in determining the 'representativeness' of different legislatures,(16) and
  • normative theories of representation, concerned with what the relationship should be between representatives and represented.(17)

Although in practice, most substantive discussions of political representation address aspects of all three categories, the above categories serve as a useful structure for this paper.(18) Furthermore, each one of these categories, albeit to greater or lesser degrees, tends to address what we can term the 'four w's of representation': where, why, which and who.(19) For instance, both political philosophy and system-wide approaches focus the 'where' question on legislatures and parliaments. Normative theories tend to focus on the 'who' question, the individual Member of Parliament and their representational roles. Although normative theories also focus on the formal arena of where representation takes place, the informal arena of the constituency has also come under increasing scrutiny in discussing the roles of representatives. The next section expands on each of these categories with particular reference to the groups and issues that are posing challenges to political representation.

General Theories

Recent decisions of the High Court in Australia (e.g. with respect to the freedom of communication on political matters) have touched upon the importance of the core Constitutional commitment to 'representative democracy'.(20) Political scientists, however, have been strangely silent in taking up debates on the theory and practice of representation in Australian political life.(21)

An influential challenge to the concept and practice of political representation has been the ideas put forward by Anne Phillips in the Politics of Presence.(22) Phillips argues that we alter our interpretation of representation from a framework based on the 'politics of ideas' (representing citizens' opinions and policy preferences) to one based on the 'politics of presence'. In brief, Phillips argues that members from previously marginalised groups should physically present in legislatures in numbers proportional to their share of the population at large. Greater 'presence' of groups such as women, and ethnic and racial minorities, is important not only because they can authentically represent members of their group (although Phillips argues that this is more likely), but because they may change the agenda and bring new perspectives to bear on existing ways of seeing and doing politics.

Moreover, Phillips argues that 'who' our representatives are is especially important as representatives seem to have greater autonomy and freedom in how they vote and behave in legislatures. This ties into trends that suggest that a declining confidence (e.g. on the part of party members and the wider public) in a politics of mandates(23) has occurred. Increasingly, party leaderships, especially of Centre-Left parties, have been less bound to the party policies and platforms agreed to by the wider membership. In part this is reflective of broader political changes since the end of the Cold War but also due to the speed and extent of change that confronts any party in a position of government. The decline of mandates has implications for governments struggling to manage policy-making in an internationalising world.(24) As one Australian Labor MP concluded:

The old concept of an elected government with a mandate to implement a comprehensive platform has broken down. The speed and scope of change has made it impossible to predict in detail the conditions which will prevail in a few years time.(25)

In Australia, the 'mandate debate' has also become marked by an increasingly futile discussion between major and minor parties in the House of Representatives and Senate over 'who' really has a mandate.(26) The implications for political representation, however, are much more critical. As Phillips argues, the more autonomous (or free of mandates) are our political representatives, the more it matters 'who' they are.(27) If politicians are there solely to implement a pre-determined mandate, then their social composition is less important. If, on the other hand, representatives have greater autonomy of judgement, then the different 'life experiences' and perspectives that a more diverse legislature may bring to bear on policy-making becomes more critical. In this view, declining centrality of 'mandates' to the reality rather than rhetoric of politics, therefore, makes a politics of presence ever more urgent. The presence of particular groups who have been previously excluded in parliaments is important for getting their perspective into the chamber, requiring others to internalise their point of view and hence change the nature of how the 'others' think.

System-wide Approaches to Representation

System-wide approaches to political representation dominate discussions and debates in Australia. The last few years have seen calls by both major political parties for reform of the Senate because of its being supposedly 'unrepresentative'. Its proportional representation system of voting has meant that minor parties and independents have held the balance of power, thus frustrating the government's legislative agenda.(28) Its voting system has also ensured that it was the Senate that saw the first indigenous parliamentarian in Australia and facilitated the increase in the number of women and ethnic members of parliament.

More recently the minor parties and other commentators have turned the cards, arguing that it is the House of Representatives that is in fact 'unrepresentative'.(29) They point out that while the Senate provides some representation for Australia's third (Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party), fifth (Democrats) and sixth (Greens) largest parties (in terms of votes received at the 1998 election), the House of Representatives sees only the largest (ALP), second-largest (Liberal) and fourth-largest (National) parties represented.

No matter the merits or otherwise of this debate, some commentators such as Malcolm Mackerras argue that whether any change to our electoral systems occurs ultimately rests with the High Court's interpretation of the Constitutional provisions with respect to the election of members and senators.(30) Another issue that has occupied the High Court is whether any explicit rights, such as those of freedom of political communication, can be implied from the principle of representative government as it stands in the Australian Constitution. Since the late 1980s the Court has held that the concept of representative democracy was embodied in the Constitution and as a result of this there was an implied freedom of communication about political matters.(31)

A view of the Constitution as a document embodying many rights (albeit implied) is not without controversy or disagreement. This is reflected in several of the recent decisions of the Court.(32) For instance, although on the one hand the majority of the Court concluded that freedom of communication as to political matters was an indispensable element in representative government, on the other hand, the Court has found no implied right with respect to the equality of voting power, so that Australian citizens have no constitutional guarantee of 'one vote one value'.(33)

Sir Anthony Mason has also raised three important points about the constitutional principle of representative government:(34)

  • the constitutional principle of representative government 'is not a free-standing concept to be freely elaborated and moulded by judges according to the fashions and dictates of political theory and political science'. Instead, it is primarily concerned with the principle as it stands in the text of the Constitution
  • that the constitutional framework of representative government leaves much to the judgement of Parliament, and
  • the process of law making by Parliament (e.g. with respect to Statutes dealing with electoral processes) may over time influence how the Court sees the constitutional concept of representative government. To this extent, the constitutional concept is dynamic and evolving and derives from sources external to the Constitution.

It is because of this last point in particular that interpretation of the principle becomes controversial and in part why several scholars, including Sir Anthony when he was Chief Justice of the High Court, have advocated the need for a bill of rights.(35) They argue that the 'judicial activism' displayed by the Court during the 1980s and 1990s has limitations and also presents significant dangers. For instance, while a view of the Constitution as containing several 'implied rights' may assist a more expansive view of representative democracy, the long-term consequences would be a compromised High Court in terms of its legitimacy as a final arbiter of the Constitution, as the Constitution was never drafted to include a bill of rights. Furthermore, such judicial activism removes the Australian citizenry as the only group able to sanction constitutional reform.

A contrasting position is that the Federal parliament must take the initiative in building a statutory bill of rights, rather than leaving it to the High Court to fill the vacuum.(36) This seems to be a fair and valid proposition, that further emphasises the growing importance of 'who' our representatives are, if as Mason and others argue, Parliament is the ultimate site for deciding the substance and mechanisms of representative government. For instance, it is up to the Parliament to decide on matters of electoral detail. Parliament has prescribed the system of preferential voting for the House of Representatives, and the election of Senators by proportional representation. As Mason has argued 'it is for Parliament to give content to the constitutional system of representative government. The Constitution specifies the minimum requirements on the footing that Parliament can supplement them'.(37)

Presence and Diversity in Parliament

This discussion leads onto issues concerning the diversity of Australian parliaments. System-wide approaches to political representation tend to focus on the degree to which the composition of parliaments 'mirror' various groups in the wider population, in particular, with respect to people from non-English speaking background, indigenous Australians and women.

There are three key questions. First, to what extent are these groups present in parliaments, and to what extent are they present in sufficient numbers to critically influence policy and decision making? Second, even if parliaments comprise more female, ethnic or indigenous representatives, do they necessarily behave differently in their parliamentary representative roles from other representatives? Third, what are the strategies that can and have been pursued to increase the 'effective presence' of these groups? As the answers to this last question tend to involve the role of political parties, discussion is left to a later section.

Women in Australia and elsewhere have been successful in politicising their absence from parliaments, and have been slowly increasing their presence by challenging forms of direct and indirect discrimination that have posed barriers to their effective participation.(38) At the end of 1998, 22 per cent of House of Representative members and almost one-third of Senators in the Australian Federal Parliament were women. Similarly, the percentage of women in the Cabinet increased from six per cent in 1994 to almost 13 per cent in 1997, whilst 14 per cent of the Ministry were women.(39)

Whilst an improvement on past records, this is still far from the critical presence needed, estimated to be at least 33 per cent, if women are to significantly affect the policies and processes of government.(40) Furthermore, Australia lags behind several other countries with respect to female representation, even those whose electoral systems are not based on proportional representation.(41)

Turning to our second question, of whether gender matters to representation, one study of women candidates and MPs in Australia found that 'women political candidates in Australia represent first their particular parties, secondarily the voters in their constituencies, and least of the three their gender'.(42) Indeed, it was the dominance of male dominated political parties in Australia that led the women's movement and organisations to see the bureaucracy as an alternative means of effecting change on issues of concern to women. Nevertheless, several studies suggest that gender does influence both representatives and their constituents' attitudes to representation, from the style of doing politics to having greater empathy for policies that assist a better balance to work and family.(43) Female parliamentarians are also more responsive to issues of concern to women constituents, as measured by their parliamentary interventions, especially as the number of female parliamentarians increased.(44)

Representation is a complex process, with women MPs being expected to balance a range of representational roles. Representatives have to be strategic in choosing when and where their particular identity/ies as woman/ethnic/gay and so on is relevant and when it is not. This pressure is heightened, moreover, when presence is not of a sufficiently critical mass. The fact that female leaders of political parties or female Ministers are still a 'novelty' makes it all the easier for the media to play on gendered or ethnicised 'representations' of them. Portrayal of their actions and policies tends to be filtered through their sex or ethnicity, or rather, stereotypical images of these, precisely because they are seen as 'different', irrespective of whether the 'difference' is pertinent to the issue at hand.

In a sense it is difficult to make any judgement on whether gender makes a difference to representation precisely because it is still seen as an exception rather than a rule. Or to put it somewhat paradoxically, 'difference' can only make a difference when the difference in the composition of parliaments in terms of gender, ethnicity and so on is minimal. If women made up half of the Federal Parliament, the media would soon find focusing on the dress sense, or past love affairs of female members less appealing. A greater presence would also relieve the pressure on existing women MPs to be encompassing of several identities in their representational roles and behaviour. Similar arguments can be made with respect to ethnic and indigenous minorities.

Similarly, although the number of MPs from non-English speaking background has slowly increased, there is still not a critical mass sufficient for its 'presence' to make itself felt on policies and agendas.(45) Keeping in mind the flaws in simple 'mirror' arguments, present numbers of first and second generation MPs from NESB need to at least double (and also better reflect women) in the Federal arena before we can speak of a sufficiently critical mass or 'presence'. Nevertheless, research suggests that ethnicity does make a difference to representation.(46) Representatives from ethnic background display a greater degree of parliamentary responsiveness to their ethnic sub-constituencies. Furthermore, the ethnicity of the electorate also influences the representational behaviour of both ethnic and non-ethnic MPs.

The small numbers of ethnic MPs currently in parliaments, however, again leads to the kinds of internal and external pressures and balancing acts that were noted with respect to women MPs. We now often have the situation that some MPs from ethnic background downplay their ethnicity (by changing their name, or not taking a high profile on issues such as multiculturalism and immigration, or continuously stressing that they represent all Australians) while some MPs of non-ethnic background see 'ethnic markers' as an advantage. Some might interpret this as a positive sign, that the politics of presence, albeit limited, has encouraged representatives to be responsive to other 'identities'. Yet we must be wary in coming to such a conclusion. Witness, for instance, this recent interview with Kerry Chikarovski, leader of the NSW Liberal party: (47)

Q: Is having an ethnic name a hindrance or help?

KC: My name is very much part of me (laughing), so I regard it as an asset. I've never pretended to be Macedonian ... maybe it indicates I've got a better understanding of multicultural issues than a lot of other people.

Q: Did you ever consider going back to your original name after you broke up with your husband?

KC: No, because I've been Chikarovski for 20 years now. And I'm comfortable with it.

If acquiring and being 'comfortable' with an 'ethnic' name makes one more responsive to ethnic issues, then ethnic Australians have little to worry about by their current political under-representation! On the whole, most MPs from an ethnic background find themselves trying to balance their role of representing their parties and geographical electorates, with also being spokespeople for 'ethnic' related issues.

The interview cited above then moved on from Chikarovski's pseudo-ethnicity to the influence of her gender. It is worth quoting at length as it nicely illustrates some of the issues regarding the existence of different male and female political cultures as well as the strategic use of the politics of presence as opposed to the 'politics of absence'.

Q: Do you think being a woman helps or hinders you?

KC: People won't make a decision about me because I'm a woman; they will make a decision as to whether I can do the job. If I get elected as Premier I'll be delighted to be elected as a Liberal, as a female, and as someone who has a plan for the State.

Q: You are a feminist?

KC: Absolutely.

Q: Are there particular women's issues you feel strongly about?

KC: I feel strongly about the need for equal opportunity. Women's careers are not being advanced as they should be in the professions, in the boardrooms ... [B]ut, I should say, the whole social policy area is a pre-eminent area for me.

Q: Would you support American-style affirmative action?

KC: I don't think quotas work ...

Q: It's said that politics is such a male domain, it turns women into men; and some people maintain you've become too blokey ... is that right?

KC: Hmmm [she laughs] ... I'd actually reject that. I don't think I'm blokey at all. I refuse to play the games down in the House, the screaming matches they get involved with; I haven't been thumping the table, not in that male way of aggression ... that's not me ... there was a joke when I first came in ... One of my colleagues said to me: 'After a few weeks, oh, you'll be fine, Chika, you'll be one of the blokes'. It was said in jest, but I don't think I've adopted that as a persona.

Q: Do you agree that there is pressure on women in politics to adopt a male culture?

KC: On our side, less so. We're not brought up in the 'mates' culture of the Labor Party. I haven't found that in the Liberal Party. In Parliament? You can easily get caught up in it down there, but I choose not to.

In comparison to the parliamentary representation of women and people from NESB, the parliamentary representation of indigenous Australians has been virtually non-existent. There have only been two Federal indigenous politicians, both elected to the Senate, Neville Bonner, a Liberal party Senator for Queensland between 1971 and 1983, and Aden Ridgeway, a Democrat party Senator for NSW (elected in the October 1998 election to take up his seat on 1 July 1999). While there have also been indigenous MPs elected to several State/Territory parliaments, overall their presence has been limited.

The limited number of indigenous voices in Australia's parliaments makes it difficult to answer the question of whether their presence makes a difference. The case of Australia's first indigenous parliamentarian, Neville Bonner, is normally taken as a case that illustrates the need for reserved seats for indigenous Australians. Reserved seats are seen as providing indigenous representatives with greater freedom to speak on indigenous issues without falling foul of party loyalties. Bonner was a Queensland Senator for 12 years; he lost his seat in 1983 after being moved from first to third place on the Liberal Party's Senate ticket. This effective 'dumping' occurred as a result of Bonner's strong stance in support of indigenous rights and his growing criticism of Coalition policy in the area. Indeed, on several occasions he voted with the Opposition on indigenous issues and became increasingly radical and outspoken on indigenous rights.(48)

Again illustrating the difficult balancing acts that 'different' MPs have to contend with, especially when few in number, Bonner also attracted the ire of his own community and indigenous activists for being too conservative and 'selling out' on indigenous issues. His own views on the need for greater indigenous representation also illustrated this conflict. At his maiden speech in Parliament he said, 'All within me that is Aborigine yearns to be heard as the voice of the indigenous people'.(49) As a delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention more than two decades later, he sang a 'chant of regret' for the small number of indigenous people present. At the same Convention he argued that 'there needs to be a greater Aboriginal presence in the country's parliaments', but he also spoke out against reserved seats.(50) Similar to representatives from ethnic background, he often felt it necessary to stress that he represented 'all' Australians:

I wasn't a senator for whites. I wasn't a senator for blacks. I was a senator for Queensland and all its people.(51)

As Peter Read argued in an obituary for Bonner:

His story reinforces the argument for statutory indigenous members of the Federal parliament who may side with any political party they wish-or none ... Independent-minded moderates who resented patronage, who favoured self-help, progress by increments ... and working within the system, found themselves without a permanent political home.(52)

Indeed, Bonner left the Liberal party in 1983 and stood for the Senate as an independent but was narrowly defeated.

Distrust of Representation

Another key challenge to the 'system of representation' in Australia is the increasing popular distrust of its key institutions, such as political parties and electoral systems.(53) Growing distrust of representative institutions is not a phenomenon solely confined to Australia and is linked to a range of factors.(54) Several explanations have been put forward, for instance, to explain the rise and success of populist parties such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party. First are the rapid changes that have occurred in economic relations, usually lumped together under the catch-cry of globalisation.(55) The increasing internationalisation of the economy has limited the ability of national governments to deal with areas of policy they once did, and has led many to blame the political parties and politicians for not doing enough to counter this change. As one MP has argued:

An inevitable consequence of massive structural change in Australia's economy has been a serious erosion of public confidence in the democratic and representative institutions built into the framework of society.(56)

Second are the changes that have occurred at a social and cultural level, especially those related to notions of national identity. Several commentators have noted the 'sense of loss of identity' that has been experienced by Anglo-Australians, confronted on a daily basis by the ethnic and cultural diversity of their streets, suburbs and businesses.(57) The reasons for the rise of populist leaders such as Hanson has been variously explained as the 'voice of old Anglo-Celtic Australia, resentful of its displacement from the centre of Australian cultural life by the new ethnic Australians and nostalgic for a time when it imagined its identity was both secure and central'.(58) Others claim she is the voice of middle Australia, echoing the vision of 1950s Australia under Menzies, and opposed to a more internationalist, multicultural and cosmopolitan Australia that emerged under Keating's Labor.(59) Judith Brett focuses on a sense of middle class grievance.(60) Most, however, frame their explanations in terms of a revolt or struggle by the 'people' or 'mainstream Australians' against a New Class elite, composed of politicians, bureaucrats, interest groups and the media.(61) No matter what the terms used, the outcome suggested is the same: the emergence of a chasm, and a growing distrust between the 'elites' and the 'masses'.

Apart from the rise of populist parties, a consequence of this distrust and distance between the elected and electors, is the canvassing of mechanisms that reduce the power of the former, and in some cases, by-pass the parliament and the principles of representative democracy. Wishes to by-pass the parliament have emerged in the recent republican debate, for instance, with some supporters for a directly elected president preferring to side with the monarchists in the November 1999 referendum rather than support the 'yes' case for a Republic with the President elected by a two-thirds majority of Parliament. Some have argued that groups like the republicans for a directly elected president and the wider ideas of populist democracy associated with them, represents a threat to individual autonomy and representative democracy:

Direct election or citizen-initiated referendums or myriad other proposals under the rhetoric of giving the community a voice will strike at the heart of fundamental liberal values. This is precisely why populist democracy is so intensely hostile to the autonomy of political institutions-because these structures engender autonomy as well as debate and discussion.(62)

Indeed, many supporters of a popularly elected president in an Australian republic, such as Peter Reith and Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, are also supporters of citizen-initiated referenda (CIR). Despite CIR being linked to the more recent signs of distrust and disillusionment with the political system, CIR has a rather long history, being advocated at the state and federal levels in Australia since the late nineteenth century.(63) What has changed, however, is that while earlier supporters of CIR and direct democracy were parties from the Left, recent proponents are generally from the conservative side of politics.(64)

Several scholars have pointed out the dangers that even a well thought out CIR system (such as that proposed for the ACT) pose for representation and liberal democracy:(65)

  • systems of CIR are likely to be dominated by interest groups rather than individuals, thus giving even greater power to groups which have also become increasingly distrusted by the public
  • CIR tends to undermine the Westminster system of government, especially the principles of responsible government and representative democracy
  • CIR will undermine the accountability of elected representatives, and
  • CIR has the capacity to reduce the rights of minority groups.

These are all serious issues that must be addressed, especially in the absence of a bill of rights which could at least prevent CIR proposals overturning certain guaranteed rights. For instance, CIR proposals in California (albeit unsuccessful) have included a ban on gays from teaching in public schools and a quarantine of AIDS patients.(66) Other countries with CIR, such as Italy and the US have a bill of rights, and courts in these countries have struck down successful CIR proposals as being inconsistent with rights guaranteed by their constitutions.(67) In the current climate, those interested in a more inclusive democracy and the fairer representation of excluded groups would do better to focus their energies on a bill of rights rather than CIR.

Representation beyond Parliaments: the Role of Peak Bodies

Popular distrust is also evident in relation to the bodies that mediate between citizens and representative assemblies, namely the various peak bodies and non-government organisations (NGOs) that seek to represent the interests of the poor, the elderly, the young and so on. Peak bodies can be defined as:

[R]epresentative bodies that provide information and dissemination services, membership support, co-ordination, advocacy and representation, and research and policy development for their members and other interested parties. This role may not include direct service delivery (but may involve grant support, sponsorship and auspicing of other organisations) to deliver services.(68)

The important and often highly visible role that these groups have come to play in the policy process, has the tendency to give an impression that government and representation has become the preserve of a conspiratorial elite of bureaucrats and interest groups, meeting in the rooms and restaurants of Canberra, making deals to suit their own agendas.

The Howard government came to power in 1996, capitalising on the view that under Labor, the bureaucracies of government had become interlocked with a range of special interest groups and peak bodies, especially those related to women, ethnic groups, the 'Aboriginal industry' and environmentalists. Howard's catch-cry was that he would govern for 'all Australians', and not just 'sectional' interests. The legitimacy of peak group involvement in the policy-making arena has subsequently come under challenge.(69)

Much of the government's critique of peak bodies draws upon public choice theories that question the motivation of interest groups and their interaction with the state.(70) Public choice theory is the application of economic methodology to the study of the political process. Public choice theorists argue that governments have failed in their market interventions because they have become 'captured' or 'perverted' by special interests. Public choice theory implies:

... that interest groups are irredeemably self-seeking, possessing no larger interests than the preservation of sectional interests.(71)

Are peak bodies and other NGOs necessary to the representational process? According to public choice theorists, the process of political representation should primarily take place between the elected representative and his or her constituents. Peak bodies and interest groups only act to interfere in this process, much like monopolies or trade unions are seen to distort the optimal workings of the free market.

Such an atomised view of society, however, ignores the real need for governments and bureaucracies to deal with a single or a few organisations with respect to particular policy issues. Indeed, the state has long played an active role as a catalyst for the establishment of peak bodies to represent emerging social movements in Australia.(72) In contrast to theoretical frameworks that either see peak bodies as a co-opted arm of the state (neo-Marxist/resource mobilisation), or self-seeking conspirators against the state and taxpayer (public choice), Sawer and Jupp argue that the relationship between the state and peak bodies is best understood as a 'two-way street'. Some co-option with state agencies has occurred, and indeed must, if social movements are to achieve their goals:

... it is the organisational strength or level of institutionalisation of a social movement that will often be a crucial resource for state agencies attempting to promote social or environmental agendas in the face of a deregulatory policy environment.(73)

Rapid and effective responses to issues such as HIV/AIDS, for instance, meant that governments required a sole voice with whom they could liaise. Hence the establishment of AFAO (Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) in 1985, for example, was more a result of the Federal government's need to negotiate with one organisation, rather than a result of sectional self-interest or community development on the part of the gay community.(74) Furthermore, government quickly saw it as the authoritative and representative voice on all AIDS related issues.

Much of the recent research on social movements concurs with Sawer and Jupp's view of state-peak relations as a symbiotic relationship.(75) As they highlight, 'it has been part of Australia's social liberal tradition that the state has been perceived as the primary vehicle for social reform'.(76) In many ways, the state support for the political representation of vulnerable groups in the community is what makes Australia distinctive in terms of political representation.(77)

Normative Theories of Representation

Normative theories of representation tell us about the functions of an elected representative.(78) Discussion has been dominated by the well-known mandate/independence or delegate/trustee dichotomy. In brief, how should elected representatives act? Should they be free to act in the manner they think best serves the national interest (the trustee), or should they rather be an agent for their constituents and act and vote according to their constituents' interests (the delegate)?

This dichotomy is, it has been argued, a false distinction in practice. The proper role of the representative is generally believed to fall somewhere between these two poles.(79) More importantly, in many parliamentary systems including Australia, elected representatives often act and vote according to party discipline. The responsible party model, as it is known, has traditionally been seen as a variant of the mandate or delegate thesis. In this case, the parties put forward alternative platforms to the electorate who then indicate their preferences by electing one party over another.

As was noted earlier, however, the party model is being challenged. This change is especially evident with the Labor party, which has moved from its historical origins as a 'delegate' of the working class to one where the parliamentary leaders see themselves more as the 'trustees' of party philosophy, free to change and act according to circumstance rather than tradition. As was also noted, this is one of the reasons for the increased disenchantment with parties.

Another criticism of the delegate/trustee dichotomy is the paradox that elected representatives may be avowedly trustee in belief, but still faithfully represent their electorate's opinions because they are a native of the area and have therefore internalised some of the outlook of their electors.(80) Representatives vote the way their constituents want, in as much as they do, not because they are more inclined to be delegates, but because they are similar to them. This finding is significant because it reminds us that it may be possible to marry earlier more empirically based approaches to representation with more recent developments in political philosophy. Indeed, it is consistent with Phillips' arguments concerning the politics of presence, namely, that 'no one is a better judge of the interests of members of some group than are members of that group itself'.(81)

Studies of the representational roles of MPs in Australia, limited as they are, have remained within the mandate/independence mould. Emy's study classified MPs according to whether they were primarily 'delegates', 'trustees' or 'politicos'. The 'trustee' model appeared most distinctly among members of the Liberal party, while the 'delegate' model was filled mainly by Labor MPs who saw themselves as 'party delegates', or by new MPs who were keen on consolidating their seats who saw themselves as delegates of their constituencies. Emy found, however, that the majority of MPs in his study fitted the mixed category of 'politico' (those who combine both these orientations) was the major role response of Australian MPs.(82)

Similarly, more recent studies show that candidates identify with three types of representational roles:

  • locals, who focus on addressing constituency based concerns and interests
  • partisans, who see their role in party political terms, and
  • legislators, who emphasise the parliamentary and policy role of an elected representative.(83)

Another study by the same authors found that Australian MPs conformed to three main distinctions in terms of representational roles:

  • the free mandate
  • responsible party, and
  • the imperative mandate.(84)

The terms may be different but the substance is the same-MPs face conflicting pressures from their constituents, their party and their conscience.

Whilst more recent studies are more sophisticated in terms of data measurement, the continued concern with the relative influence of either constituency, party or conscience on the way representatives vote has led to a focus on whether the policy positions adopted by representatives at the parliamentary level mirrors those of their constituents. As a consequence, studies have examined the attitudes and behaviour of elected representatives within the context of Westminster, Washington or Canberra. The focus has been on only one dimension of representation, its official or parliamentary face.(85) Parliamentarians and legislators, however, also face towards the areas they represent, areas that are in the main far removed from their respective legislative capitals.

Empirical studies of political representation underwent a change in focus in the 1980s towards seeing the process of representation as a complex whole and one that should focus on the degree of responsiveness a representative may display towards his or her constituents on a range of matters.(86) Aspects of representational responsiveness include:

  • service responsiveness-the situation where an MP attempts to gain advantages for individual constituents through case work
  • allocation responsiveness-the situation where an MP attempts to gain advantages for groups in the electorate
  • policy responsiveness-the degree to which a representative takes into account constituent views when making policy or voting on bills in Parliament
  • symbolic responsiveness-defined as a 'relationship built on trust and confidence expressed in the support that the represented give to the representative and to which he (sic) responds by symbolic, significant gestures',(87) and
  • parliamentary responsiveness-the degree to which MPs are responsive to their constituents (and sub-constituencies) in the official arena of representation as measured by the extent to which they raise interventions related to them and on their behalf.(88)

Many of the studies that adopted a framework of responsiveness also adopted different methodological approaches to those that had previously concentrated on efforts to measure the congruence between the interests and opinions of constituents on the one hand and the views and voting behaviour of legislators on the other. By using qualitative research methods such as participant observation, these studies have shown the importance of the other face of representation-the representatives in their constituencies.(89) They have been concerned with questions such as-how do representatives communicate with their constituents? How do representatives perceive their electorates? What is their 'home' style? What determines their representational style? What do representatives do in their electorates and why?

This aspect of representation remains sadly neglected in Australia, and there are few constituency-based studies of political representation in Australia.(90) The survey-based research on representational roles, however, suggests that the second face of representation, the MP in the constituency, remains important both in terms of how MPs perceive their roles and in their actual behaviour. As one Labor MP has recently stated:

The most important functions of MPs, helping constituents confronting bewildering bureaucracies and studying major issues through the committee system, occur outside the chamber.(91)

Yet crucial questions regarding the micro-level face of representation remain unanswered. Some have suggested that the rise and success of several independent candidates at State and Federal level at the expense of the two major parties, may indeed be due to their stronger constituency and local focus.(92) Similarly, the success of several female MPs, such as Jackie Kelly and Trish Worth, in winning marginal seats for the Liberal party has been attributed to their focus on constituency and local issues. Studies suggest that women are more oriented to constituency roles than their male colleagues.(93)

We know that immigration is a key issue with respect to service responsiveness in 'ethnic electorates'.(94) More anecdotally, we know that grievances with the Child Support Agency constitute a major source of constituency work for MPs in all electorates.(95) We also know that constituents rank highly a strong constituency focus by their MPs, yet the dominance of party affiliation is normally thought to outweigh any local effects. Despite this, some studies have shown that MPs in Australia can still benefit from a personal vote of approximately three per cent of the primary vote.(96) McAllister has shown that candidates who reported devoting more time to local activities are likely to benefit by between four to seven per cent of the first preference vote.(97) Yet a later study by the same author concluded that local constituency work by MPs actually decreases their vote, while it is local party work which increased their vote!(98)

These conflicting findings, as well as the increased focus by political theorists and activists on community participation, civic engagement and social capital, all suggest that greater knowledge of the representational process in the constituency is needed.

Political Parties

The seeming importance to MPs of local party work brings us to a discussion of the broader role of political parties to representation. As was noted, the traditional role of political parties as fitting the delegate model of representation is less valid today than it was in the past. It was also noted that the major political parties are becoming less central to the political process as their dominance is challenged by the emergence of new smaller parties, independents and issue movements.(99) Nevertheless, the fact remains that the major political parties are still the main gatekeepers in order to be elected and remain in parliament. The three major political parties in Australia have dominated representation for most of this century.(100)

Political parties are not only agents for representation but have become barriers for the representation of traditionally excluded groups. The rise of the career politician and the consequent upward shift in the socio-economic background of political elites, may mean that their gender or ethnicity matters less. Difference of ostensible identities may be negated by the sameness of social background.

These changes are especially noticeable for left of centre parties. The media has made much in recent times of what it perceives as a growing gulf between Labor party elites and its traditional supporters. As one newspaper article began:

If the ALP is the party of tolerance and diversity, how come it's the conservative MPs who better reflect Australia's ethnic mix?(101)

Similarly, a recent opportunity to elect an indigenous MP to the leadership of the Northern Territory Labor party was not taken up. The media reported:

... sources within the party are concerned the failure to elevate Ah Kit will be seen as a slap in the face to indigenous voters who have traditionally supported the ALP.(102)

The background of Labor elites recently became used as a tactic for political point scoring by the Coalition government. During parliamentary question time, the Treasurer, Mr Costello, remarked that the best way to get ahead in the Labor party is to 'get born in the back of a Comcar' (Commonwealth car). He was referring to the ALP's clannish political culture, or what the government dubbed 'Labor's hereditary peers', the nine Labor MPs who are the offspring of former Labor politicians. As one newspaper article with photographs of the 'peers' prominently displayed remarked:

... instead of being the party of a fair go and equal opportunity, Labor's leadership is being portrayed as a party that has been hijacked by a privileged elite ... this large number of Labor frontbenchers from political families challenges the notion of Labor being the party that eschews privilege.(103)

This kind of criticism comes not only from the non-Labor side and the media, but also from some of its own members. Lindsay Tanner has argued that:

Labor also needs to ensure that the background of its parliamentary representatives does not continue to narrow. The proportion of Labor MPs who have been political professionals of some description or other throughout their working lives is growing steadily.(104)

Whilst a gap between elite and mass opinion has long been a feature of politics, especially on the Labor side, the increasing narrowness of the background of political elites has exacerbated the sense of distrust and alienation discussed previously.(105)

The Way Forward

This section concludes with a brief discussion of the options available to improve the political representation of groups that traditionally have been under-represented.

Political Parties

The impediments posed by political parties, especially in gaining pre-selection for safe seats, is a real problem for all groups which are currently under-represented in parliament. It is women who have made the greatest inroads in this regard, with parties such as the ALP adopting strategies such as the setting of targets for women and the establishment of an Australian EMILY's List.(106) It has been shown that the use of institutional structures within parties such as women's sections and quotas, even in countries with single-member electorates with first-past-the-post, has a significant effect on the representation of women.(107) Although political parties are exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cwth), affirmative action policies or quotas are not, if they are intended to achieve equal outcomes between men and women:

Thus, adopting a quota system to permanently increase the percentage of women in Parliament, as opposed to relying solely on large swings, may prove a useful means in providing women with political equality and fair representation.(108)

The situation for ethnic minorities appears bleaker as the bulk of ethnic membership of the Labor party is also in its safest seats. Some claim that the ethnic-based membership in these areas is solely the result of 'ethnic branch stacking' with ethnic communities being used as pawns in pre-selection struggles by party 'stars'.(109) Whilst this is true in some cases, there are also signs that ethnic communities 'are doing it for themselves', and will in time use their numbers to select their own candidates.(110)

An interesting proposal to make parties more responsive to the representational demands of under-represented groups has been suggested by John Uhr.(111) He suggests that when political parties receive public funding based on their share of the vote, there is a valid argument that this funding be made contingent on their introducing schemes for gender equity. Indeed, there is no reason why schemes for improving the representation of other groups such as ethnic minorities, the disabled and indigenous persons could not also be monitored by the Australian Electoral Commission. As Uhr argues, the 'general approach has been to treat political parties as private organisations, although they are, in fact, public bodies registered with the Electoral Commission'.(112)

Electoral Reform

The impact of different electoral and voting systems in determining the relative presence of particular groups in parliaments is well known. Much focus has been directed to New Zealand's adoption of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, and the improvements in Maori, female and ethnic representation that occurred after the first election under that system in 1996.(113) The major parties in Australia remain suspicious of any non-majoritarian system, indeed, they seem intent on removing elements of proportionality in present arrangements. It should be remembered, however, that pressure for MMP in New Zealand was the result of widespread electorate dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the previous two-party system.(114) Yet the outcome of recent attempts to reduce the proportionality of parliaments, such as in Tasmania, suggests that proportionality in and of itself is not a panacea for fairer representation, unless the major parties select and support candidates from under-represented groups.(115)

A subset of arguments concerning electoral systems is the possibility of reserving a number of seats for indigenous representatives in State and Federal parliaments. Some indigenous groups have lobbied for reserved parliamentary seats since at least 1938, although calls for their introduction have become more widespread and popular in recent times as discussion on Constitutional reform and reconciliation has increased.(116) Reserved seats are also given legitimacy by the arguments of political theorists such as Kymlicka who argue that indigenous rights and claims to representation are different and stronger than those of ethnic minorities, and as such the means of improving political representation is also different.(117)

Reserved seats may be seen as a means of overcoming the problems of representation for a group that is numerically small (approximately two per cent of the population) yet whose importance for the very legitimacy of the nation-state is critical.(118) Unlike ethnic minorities, whose geographical concentration in particular areas, albeit from diverse backgrounds, enables the creation of 'ethnic electorates', it is difficult to speak of 'indigenous electorates'. Apart from the Northern Territory, and one or two electorates in Queensland and Western Australia, indigenous Australians are concentrated in relatively small pockets in safe National Party seats, where their ability to bring pressure to bear on individual MPs is limited.(119) Whilst indigenous representatives have been more successful at the local government level, their participation in the political system remains limited.(120)

Although proposals for ensuring that indigenous members are also selected by political parties for winnable seats have also become increasingly common,(121) as we noted earlier, reserved seats are argued to provide not just a symbolic voice, but a greater freedom for indigenous representatives to depart from party strictures. This freedom may be especially important when we consider the extent to which racial attitudes still play a critical role in Australian political ideology.(122)

Other alternatives for indigenous representation include the establishment of indigenous parliaments or assemblies. The Sami Assembly in Norway, for instance, consists of 39 members who are elected by Sami people registered in the Sami electoral roll. Eligible voters for the Sami Assembly can also vote in elections for the Norwegian Parliament (the Storting). Now in operation for just over a decade, the Sami Assembly has improved the representation, voice and status of Sami people and interests in Norwegian society.(123) Calls for similar developments have also occurred in New Zealand, Canada and the US, and are being given consideration in Australia by bodies such as the Standing Committee on Social Issues of the NSW Parliament.(124)

The Bureaucracy

The bureaucracy has increasingly come to play an important role in representation. While peak bodies and NGOs perform representational roles as advocates of specific interests, it is often the various government agencies and departments that have the role of drafting the relevant legislation or driving policy change. As Uhr has argued:

... for most citizens most of the time, the requirements of community representation are initially best dealt with by federal and State bureaucracies, which have slowly begun to devise quite elaborate mechanisms of community consultation as an integral part of the policy process.(125)

Cuts to public sector funding and activities, however, have limited the capacity of government departments to undertake adequate consultation in policy formation. Representative bodies are coming under increased pressure to conform to government agenda rather than to represent their constituents and there is a general downgrading of the value assigned to community based advocacy. Consultation processes become perfunctory, with an emphasis on 'stakeholders' rather than empowerment of citizens. The failure to set up adequate processes for community dialogue over policy development has led some scholars, such as John Uhr to suggest that there should be parliamentary oversight of community consultations to ensure it remains a meaningful part of representational democracy.

International Dimension

While the focus of this paper has been on Australia, international institutions are becoming increasingly important as a vehicle for under-represented groups to put pressure to bear on national institutions and policies. The role of the World Conference on Women, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, for instance, have been important in keeping the representation of women on national political agendas. Similarly, indigenous activists have also at times found using international forums such as the United Nations an effective forum for promoting their cause.(126) While political representation is still a predominantly national and sub-national concern, it is likely to mirror the 'internationalisation' of recent developments in the theory and practice of citizenship.(127)

Institutions in general and the institutions of representation in particular, are confronting pressing demands to adapt and change to meet the increasing expectations from a citizenry no longer simply defined by 'interests' or 'ideas' but by a multiplicity of identities. To return to one of the initial themes of this paper, a politics of ideas has been enriched by a politics of presence. The aim of this paper has been to review some of the shifts taking place and hopefully stimulate further research and ideas in the increasingly complex world of representation.


  1. The Australian, 16 December 1998, p. 10.

  2. David Marr, 'Give gay people equal rights', Sydney Morning Herald, 30 January 1999.

  3. The Sun Herald, 31 January 1999.

  4. The Australian, 21 January 1998.

  5. Ian Marsh, Beyond the Two Party System, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

  6. Ian McAllister and Clive Bean, 'Long-term electoral trends and the 1996 election', in Clive Bean, Scott Bennett, Marian Simms and John Warhurst eds, The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Australian federal election, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1997.

  7. Marsh, op. cit.

  8. Elim Papadakis, 'New aspirations, changing patterns of representation and electoral behaviour', in Ian Marsh, ed, Governing in the 1990s: An agenda for the decade, Melbourne, Longman Cheshire, 1993.

  9. ibid.

  10. Lindsay Tanner, Open Australia, Sydney, Pluto Press, 1999.

  11. Clive Bean and Elim Papadakis, 'Minor parties and Independents: Electoral bases and future prospects', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 30 (Special issue), 1995, pp. 111-26; Scott Bennett, 'The decline in support for Australian major parties and the prospect of minority government', Research Paper no. 10, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998-99.

  12. Tanner, op. cit., p. 198.

  13. The workshop was held on 10-11 December, 1998. The papers are forthcoming as an edited collection, Marian Sawer and Gianni Zappalà eds, Representation: Theory and Practice in Australian Politics.

  14. Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence, Oxford, Clarendon, 1995.

  15. A.H. Birch, Representation, London, Pall Mall Press, 1971; J. Roland Pennock, Democratic Political Theory, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1979; Phillips, op. cit.

  16. P. Cowley and K. Dowding, 'Electoral systems and Parliamentary representation', Politics Review, September 1994, pp. 19-21.

  17. H.F. Pitkin, The Concept of Representation, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1972.

  18. For example, see Phillips, op. cit.; Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A liberal theory of minority rights, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995.

  19. I thank Helena Catt, a discussant at the workshop, who suggested this framework in her summing up of the proceedings.

  20. Anthony Mason, 'The Constitutional Principle of Representative Government', in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  21. For an exception, see, John Uhr, Deliberative Democracy in Australia, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  22. Phillips, op. cit.

  23. John Nethercote, 'Mandate: Australia's Current Debate in Context', Research Paper no. 19, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998-99.

  24. Hugh Emy, 'States, markets and the global dimension: An overview of certain issues in political economy', in Paul Smyth and Bettina Cass eds, Contesting the Australian Way: States, Markets and Civil Society, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  25. Tanner, op. cit., p. 202.

  26. Hugh Emy, 'The mandate and responsible government', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 32, no. 1, 1997, pp. 65-78; Murray Goot, 'Whose Mandate? Policy promises, strong bicameralism and polled opinion', Paper presented to the Political Science Seminar Series, RSSS, ANU, 9 December 1998.

  27. Phillips, op. cit.

  28. Liz Young, Minor Parties, Major Players: The Senate, the Minor Parties and the 1993 Budget, Canberra, AGPS, 1997.

  29. Malcolm Mackerras, 'Swill is in the house, not Senate', The Australian, 16 December 1998, p. 8; Malcolm Mackerras, 'How to make the Senate really unfair', The Australian, 25 February 1999, p. 13; Meg Lees, 'House of ill-repute must be reformed', The Australian, 24 February 1999.

  30. Mackerras, op. cit., 1999.

  31. Mason, op. cit.

  32. ibid; In particular, see Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520; Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Wills (1992) 177 CLR 1; Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth (ACTTV) (1992) 177 CLR 106; Theophanous v Herald and Weekly Times Ltd (1993) 182 CLR 104; McGinty v Western Australia (1996) 186 CLR 140.

  33. George Williams, 'The State of Play in the Constitutionally Implied Freedom of Political Discussion and Bans on Electoral Canvassing in Australia', Research Paper no. 10. Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996-97.

  34. Mason, op. cit.

  35. Alastair Davidson, From Subject to Citizen: Australian citizenship in the Twentieth century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 128; George Williams, Human Rights under the Australian Constitution, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999.

  36. Williams, Human Rights, op. cit.

  37. Mason, op. cit.

  38. Marian Sawer, 'Parliamentary Representation of women: A matter of simple justice?' in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  39. Jennifer Curtin, 'Women in Australian Federal Cabinet', Research Note no. 40, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996-97.

  40. Consie Larmour, 'Women in the Parliaments of the world: 1997', Research Note no. 41, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996-97.

  41. Jennifer Curtin, 'Women in the UK General election 1997', Research Note no. 47, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996-97; Jennifer Curtin, 'Gender and political leadership in New Zealand', Research Note no. 14, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997-98.

  42. Ian McAllister and D.T. Studlar, 'Gender and representation among legislative candidates in Australia', Comparative Political Studies, vol. 25 no. 3, 1992, p. 402.

  43. Sawer, op. cit.

  44. ibid.

  45. Gianni Zappalà, 'Political representation of ethnic minorities: Moving beyond the mirror' in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  46. ibid.

  47. 'Eyes on the prize'-Interview with Kerry Chikarovski by Craig McGregor, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 1999, p. 36.

  48. Peter Read, 'Moderate battled from within-Obituary Neville Thomas Bonner AO', The Australian, 8 February 1999, p. 14.

  49. ibid.

  50. 'The lonely road from condemned pauper to crowned prince', Obituary-Neville Bonner, AO, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 1999, p. 4.

  51. ibid.

  52. Read, op. cit.

  53. David Solomon, Coming of Age: Charter for a New Australia, St. Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1998, p. 13.

  54. Gary Orren, 'Fall from grace: The public's loss of faith in government', in Joseph S. Nye, Philip D. Zelikow and David C. King eds, Why People Don't Trust Government, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1997.

  55. Stephen Castles, 'The racisms of globalisation', in Ellie Vasta and Stephen Castles eds, The teeth are smiling: The persistence of racism in multicultural Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996.

  56. Tanner, op. cit., p. 192.

  57. Gianni Zappalà, Four weddings, a funeral and a family reunion: Ethnicity and representation in Australian Federal politics, Canberra, AGPS, 1997, pp. 170-6; Ghassan Hage, White Nation: Fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural society, Sydney, Pluto Press, 1998.

  58. Peter Cochrane, 'Race memory', The Australian's Review of Books, November 1996.

  59. John Carroll, 'The middle-class quake', The Australian's Review of Books, February 1997.

  60. Judith Brett, 'The politics of grievance', The Australian's Review of Books, May 1997.

  61. Gregory Melleuish, The Packaging of Australia: Politics and Culture Wars, Sydney, University of New South Wales Press, 1998.

  62. Kanishka Jayasuriya, 'Beware the fascist roots of populism', The Australian, 17 February 1999, p. 13.

  63. George Williams, 'Distrust of representative government: Australian experiments with direct democracy' in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  64. See Davidson, op. cit., pp. 237-40, for an exception to this trend. The reasons for this change deserve further consideration.

  65. Williams, op. cit., Solomon, op. cit., pp. 122-30.

  66. Cited in Williams, op. cit.

  67. ibid.

  68. Industry Commission 1994, cited in Melville, op. cit.

  69. Roselyn Melville, 'The State and Peak bodies: Reinventing the relationship in the 1990s', paper presented at a University of Wollongong seminar, 1998.

  70. Peter Self, 'Government by the market', in G. Argyrous and F. Stilwell, eds, Economics as a Social Science, Sydney, Pluto Press, 1996.

  71. Ian Marsh, 1997, p. 326.

  72. Marian Sawer and James Jupp, 'The two-way street: Government shaping of community-based advocacy', Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 55 no. 4, 1996, pp. 82-99.

  73. ibid., p. 98.

  74. Dennis Altman, 'Representation, public policy and AIDS', in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  75. See Altman, op. cit., John May, 'The challenge of poverty: the case of ACOSS' in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit., Helen Meekosha, 'The politics of recognition or the politics of presence: The challenge of disability', in Sawer and Zappalà, op. cit.

  76. Sawer and Jupp, op. cit., p. 98.

  77. Jocelyn Pixley, 'Social movements, democracy and conflicts over institutional reform', in Paul Smyth and Bettina Cass, eds, Contesting the Australian Way: States, Markets and Civil Society, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  78. Pitkin, op. cit.

  79. Pennock, op. cit., p. 325.

  80. P. E. Converse and R. Pierce, Political Representation in France, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1986, p. 502; Warren E. Miller and Donald E. Stokes, 'Constituency influence in Congress', American Political Science Review, vol. 57 (1963), pp. 45-56.

  81. R. E Goodin, 'Representation Renewed: A Reply to Anne Phillips', paper presented at the workshop on: Representation: Theory and Practice in Australian Politics, ANU, Canberra, 10-11 December 1998.

  82. Hugh V. Emy, The Politics of Australian Democracy: An introduction to political science, South Melbourne, Macmillan, 1974, pp. 456-99.

  83. D.T. Studlar and I. McAllister, 'The electoral connection in Australia: Candidate roles, campaign activity, and the popular vote', Political Behaviour, vol. 16, no. 3, 1994, pp. 385-410.

  84. D.T. Studlar and I. McAllister, 'Constituency activity and representational roles among Australian legislators', The Journal of Politics, vol. 58, no. 1, 1996, pp. 69-90.

  85. P. Norton and D.M. Wood, Back from Westminster: British Members of Parliament and their Constituencies, Lexington, Ky., University Press of Kentucky, 1993.

  86. H. Eulau and P.D. Karps, 'The puzzle of representation: Specifying components of responsiveness', Legislative Studies Quarterly, 2, (1977), pp. 233-54.

  87. M.E. Jewell, 'Legislator-constituency relations and the representative process', Legislative Studies Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 3, 1983, p. 304.

  88. Jewell op. cit., Zappalà, op. cit.

  89. R.F. Fenno, Home Style: House members in their Districts, Boston, Little Brown, 1978; M.E. Jewell, Representation in State Legislatures, Lexington, Ky., University Press of Kentucky, 1982.

  90. See Zappalà, op.cit., for an exception.

  91. Tanner, op. cit., p. 205.

  92. Bennett, op. cit., p. 6.

  93. Sawer, op. cit.

  94. Zappalà, op. cit.

  95. Michelle Gunn and Richard Yallop, 'Paying the price', The Weekend Australian, 11-12 July 1998, p. 19.

  96. Clive Bean, 'The personal vote in Australian Federal elections', Political Studies, 38, (1990), pp. 253-68.

  97. Ian McAllister, Political Behaviour: Citizens, parties and elites in Australia, Melbourne, Longman Cheshire, 1992.

  98. Studlar and McAllister, op. cit.

  99. Bennett, op. cit.

  100. M. Healy and M. Lumb, 'Party Representation in Parliament since 1901', Research Note no. 39, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997-98.

  101. Pilita Clark, 'Labor pales by comparison', The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 January 1999, p. 47.

  102. Maria Ceresa, 'It's black and white for ALP', The Australian, 3 February 1999.

  103. Paul Cleary, 'Liberals turn the tables on Labor over its 'hereditary peers'', The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 1999, p. 4.

  104. Tanner, op. cit., p. 200.

  105. McAllister, op. cit; Simon Jackman, 'Pauline Hanson, the mainstream, and political elites: The place of race in Australian political ideology', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 33 no. 2, 1998, pp. 167-86.

  106. EMILY's List Australia was established in August 1995 within the ALP to further the election of women candidates. It mirrors the American organisation EMILY's List, which was established in 1985 to identify and support viable pro-choice female candidates for the Democratic Party, and to encourage turnout by female voters. There is also an EMILY's List in Great Britain. The acronym stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast-it makes the dough rise. EMILY's List seeks donations from members and aims to assist with election campaigns and research.

  107. Curtin, Women, op.cit., Gender, op. cit.

  108. Curtin, Women, op. cit., p. 2.

  109. Tanner, op. cit., p. 195.

  110. Gianni Zappalà, 'Clientelism, political culture and ethnic politics in Australia', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 33 no. 3, 1998, pp. 381-97.

  111. Uhr, op. cit., p. 237.

  112. ibid.

  113. Jonathon Boston, Stephen Levine, Elizabeth McLeay and Nigel S. Roberts, 'The 1996 general election in New Zealand', Australian Quarterly, vol. 69 no. 1, 1997, pp. 1-14.

  114. Richard Mulgan, 'The democratic failure of single-party government: The New Zealand experience', Australian Journal of Political Science, 30 (Special issue), 1995, pp. 82-96.

  115. Jennifer Curtin, 'The 1998 Tasmanian election: Women and proportional representation', Research Note No. 5 Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998-99.

  116. Georgina McGill, 'Reserved seats in Parliament for Indigenous peoples-the Maori example', Research Note no. 51, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996-97.

  117. Kymlicka, op. cit.

  118. Geoffrey Stokes, 'Citizenship and Aboriginality: Two conceptions of identity in Aboriginal political thought' in G. Stokes, ed, The Politics of Identity in Australia, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

  119. Almost one-quarter of the Federal electorate of Northern Territory is of indigenous origin, 15 per cent in the Western Australian Federal electorate of Kalgoorlie, 14 per cent in the Queensland Federal electorate of Leichhardt. In addition to these electorates, there are approximately 18 Federal electorates where the indigenous population comprises between three and nine per cent of the population. A Kopras, 'Electorate Rankings: Census 1996', Background Paper no. 14, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997-98, p. 47.

  120. Scott Bennett, White Politics and Black Australians, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1999.

  121. 'Black MPs' editorial, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 November 1998.

  122. Jackman, op. cit.

  123. NSW Parliament Standing Committee on Social Issues, Aboriginal Representation in Parliament, Issues Paper No. 3, April 1997, p. 49.

  124. ibid.

  125. Uhr, op. cit. p. 235.

  126. The UN race discrimination committee, for instance, recently found that the Wik law was in breach of Australia's international pledges not to discriminate on the grounds of race. The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 March 1999, p. 1.

  127. See for example Yasmin, N. Soysal, Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and postnational membership in Europe, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994.


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