While there seems to be broad community support for returning the number of members of the House of Assembly to 35, that support will quickly wane if Tasmanians believe the move is being driven by political and not democratic reasons.
The intervention of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) is a worrying sign. The TCCI has said that rather than returning to arrangements whereby we have seven members elected from five electorates, they want to move to five members being elected from seven electorates. Their reason? This will increase the likelihood of Tasmanians returning a majority government.
Surely any change to our democratic system should be made to make the system more democratic and not just to serve the interests of big business who believe their profits are higher under majority governments.
Democracy is about people having a voice in the parliament that determines their future. Tasmanians are tired of the old argument that majority government is good and minority government is bad. It’s a about having a diversity in parliament that reflects the community and then using all those diverse voices to make the best laws, achieve the best outcomes – for the whole community.
Moving to seven electorates in Tasmanian will be very complex and having to redraw all the electoral boundaries will be controversial, disruptive and open to political influence. Let’s face it – the current majority government is struggling to provide Tasmanians with basic services. Do we really think it has the capacity to resolve the wicked problems we face in health, homelessness and child safety and conduct a genuine debate about our democratic systems?
If the arguments to increase the number of politicians stacks up then we should simply return to the previous arrangement of having seven members elected from each of the existing five electorates – for democracy’s sake.