Four Reasons for an Upper House: Representative Democracy, Public Deliberation, Legislative Outputs and Executive Accountability
42 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014
Date Written: May 4, 2014
Arguments for and against upper houses take many forms. The first objective of this article is to defend a classification of those arguments into four basic, but by no means mutually exclusive, lines of reasoning. These lines of reasoning, it is argued, are concerned respectively with (1) democratic representation, (2) public deliberation, (3) legislative outputs and (4) scrutiny of executive government. In describing and discussing these four lines of reasoning, the article also draws attention to the special role in the debate played by arguments from government efficiency and the separation of powers, and shows how these arguments operate against a backdrop of wider debates over the relative merits of parliamentary and presidential systems of government. The second objective of the article is to evaluate these lines of argument with a view to drawing some specific conclusions about the roles performed by upper houses within the Australian State political systems, especially noting proposals for their reform or abolition.
Keywords: upper house, second chamber, bicameralism, separation of powers
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