Submission on the House of Assembly Restoration Bill 2019

The Institute for the Study of Social Change supports the restoration of the Tasmanian House of Assembly to 35 members, but argues it should be the first in a wider program of governance reforms.

This is focus of a submission on the House of Assembly Restoration Bill 2019 by our Director Professor Richard Eccleston and fellow researcher Zoë Jay.

The submission outlines that Tasmania currently has one of the smallest lower houses in the world, both in terms of the absolute number of seats, and relative to the size of the population. This has consequences for the capacity of the parliament to fulfill its core responsibilities under the Westminster model, particularly in terms of the relative sizes of the backbench, opposition and committees.

Enlarging the House of Assembly is an important first step towards strengthening parliament’s legislative and representative functions and enhancing the legitimacy and effectiveness of Tasmania’s system of government.

However, there are two sets of issues associated with the restoration which need to be considered. The submission describes these issues and briefly outlines some complementary reforms designed to promote effective and efficient governance in a small jurisdiction such as Tasmania. The restoration as currently proposed will have electoral implications while potentially enhancing the effectiveness of the Tasmanian parliament.

In support of restoring the Tasmanian House of Assembly to 35 seats, Professor Eccleston and Dr Jay outline their recommendation to evaluate the responsibilities and capacity of the parliament – especially the committees and alignment of the Cabinet to administrative departments – alongside the restoration.

This will help to ensure that the enlarged parliament is able to uphold good governance principles and effectively meet Tasmania’s legislative and administrative needs going forward.

All submissions from the Institute can be viewed on our website.

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