A Smaller, Harder Working Executive and Parliament
Our priorities are:
- Relentlessly push for deep reform to ensure more responsible, transparent and accountable government.
- Introduce into the Parliament legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to cap the number of ministers at nine and abolish the provisions for parliamentary secretaries.
- Limit Ministerial titles to one or at most two for each minister.
- Require Government departments and agencies to report to only one minister.
- Introduce legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to reduce the size of the House of Assembly from 47 members to 34 and the Legislative Council down from 22 members to 17. The Parliament as a whole would be reduced from 69 members to 51.
- Reduce the terms of Legislative Councillors from eight to four years so that the entire Legislative Council faces election at the same time as the House of Assembly.
- Push for the SA Parliament to sit at least 72 days each year, plus 18 days for Estimates committee hearings with both house of parliament participating. This would total 90 days of parliamentary and Estimates sitting days. By the end of 2017 the SA Parliament will on average have met on only 47 days each year over the past four years.
A transparent and accountable government.
Australian politics is broken. The Labor Government and Liberal Opposition are more focussed on fighting over power and perks than advancing the best interests of our state. The worst outcome on March 17 politics as usual, regardless of who occupies the Premier's office.
We must do better.
If successful in securing the balance of power in the SA Parliament, the SA-BEST team will be relentless to pushing for deep reform to ensure more responsible, transparent and accountable government. We must fix our broken government if we are to fix our state's many problems.
South Australia's parliamentarians need to work much harder and more efficiently to deliver the progress our state desperately needs.
Six fewer ministers: A smaller, more focussed executive
South Australia's Cabinet currently comprises fourteen ministers. SA's constitution currently allows the appointment of up to fifteen ministers and two parliamentary secretaries.
When our state's current constitution was adopted in 1934, the number of ministers was limited to six. Premier Tom Playford oversaw the state's industrial transformation with just six and later only eight ministers. However in the decades that have followed owing to the growth of government and the desire of successive premiers to find jobs and rewards for political mates.
There has also been an explosion in the numbers of ministerial appointments and titles. Labor Premier Jay Weatherill's Cabinet of fourteen ministers hold between them no less than 58 ministerial positions. One minister has as many as nine ministerial positions. Some government departments report to as many as five different ministers.
This complexity erodes ministerial responsibility and leads to administrative confusion.
SA-BEST strongly favours a much a smaller, more focussed and less costly government executive.
Tasmania's Government covers the same responsibilities of state administration as its South Australian counterpart with a Cabinet of only eight ministers. The Northern Territory has eight ministers while the Australian Capital Territory has seven.
SA-BEST believes the next SA Government should be comprised of no more than eight ministers including the Premier.
Ministerial titles should be limited to one or at most two for each minister. Government departments and agencies should report to only one minister.
Parliamentary secretary positions are of little value in state government and have mainly served to provide political reward for those MPs who cannot be squeezed into a ministerial position.
SA-BEST will introduce into the Parliament legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to cap the number of ministers at nine and abolish the provisions for parliamentary secretaries.
A smaller and more focussed executive will be more accountable to the parliament and more cost effective.
Cost savings from a smaller Cabinet, including the reduction of bloated ministerial staffing, should be devoted to enhancing front-line services for South Australians. A leaner, more efficient Cabinet will save tens of millions of dollars.
The size of the Cabinet will be one of a number of matters SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government.
The prospect of six fewer ministers should cause both the Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition to look closely at the Cabinet and Shadow Ministry and ask themselves who is really performing well enough to remain on the front bench.
A smaller, more efficient parliament
Have South Australians been getting value for money from the 69 parliamentarians who occupy seats in the SA Parliament? Few people would think so.
SA-BEST believes that a smaller, harder working parliament will deliver better results and more accountable government at a lower cost.
A smaller SA parliament will place greater pressure on political parties to select the best, most qualified and energetic people to serve our state, rather than provide jobs for party time-servers and hacks who expect rewards for factional loyalty.
Preselection to become a candidate in a winnable seat shouldn’t be seen as some sort of reward for service in a political machine.
SA-BEST will introduce legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to reduce the size of the House of Assembly from 47 members to 34 and the Legislative Council down from 22 members to 17.
The Parliament as a whole would be reduced from 69 members to 51.
The number of voters for each Lower House seat would grow to 35,000 — 10,000 more than now — and bring South Australia in line with Queensland, which has 35,427 voters for each seat. SA lower house electorates would still be much smaller than those in Victoria (46,178 voters for each state seat) and NSW (55,815).
Members of the House of Assembly would have to work harder, but their responsibilities would also still be significantly less than those of Members of the Federal House of Representatives.
The proposed reduction in the size of the SA Parliament would be appropriately referred to a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for review and public consultation, including in regard to resourcing for members of parliament representing geographically larger country electorates.
SA-BEST also supports a reduction in the terms of Legislative Councillors from eight to four years so that the entire Legislative Council faces election at the same time as the House of Assembly.
Eight years is just too long for an MP to serve without facing the judgement of the people.
Legislation to reduce the size of the parliament will need to be introduced, debated and passed early in the next parliament to put MPs on notice that they will have to lift their game if they want to remain in parliament after the 2022 election.
We need to put a rocket up MPs and expel the complacency that has infected state politics and caused South Australia to fall behind the rest of our nation.
Support for reducing the size of the Parliament will be one of a number of matters SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government.
Getting parliament to work longer and harder
The South Australian parliament doesn't work very hard.
By the end of 2017 the SA Parliament will on average have met on only 47 days each year over the past four years.
By comparison the Federal House of Representatives will have convened on average 67.5 days a year over the past four years.
Federal parliament usually meets on four days in a sitting week. South Australian MPs only manage a three-day sitting week.
The Federal Senate holds extensive Estimates hearings to closely examine government expenditure and administration - 16 days scheduled in 2017 and more days in previous years.
In comparison the South Australian parliament managed only five days of Estimates hearings in 2017 with Ministers being able to veto public servants from answering questions.
This is woefully inadequate to ensure effective scrutiny of government or progress the legislative reforms required to ensure better government for our state.
SA-BEST will push for the SA Parliament to sit at least 72 days each year, plus 18 days for Estimates committee hearings with both house of parliament participating.
This would total 90 days of parliamentary and estimates sitting days.
Ministers and public servants need to be regularly grilled and held fully accountable for their decisions and actions.
Agreement for more parliamentary sitting days and an enhanced program of Estimates hearings will be another key issue SA-BEST will weigh in the balance if we are in the position to decide who will form next SA Government.