The senate crossbench has been the target of considerable contempt, since the 2013 election. Frustrated by the election of minor party candidates, the Australian political class is demanding reform. The frustration of failing to pass legislation has even prompted the Prime Minister to label the senate ‘feral’.
There are electoral reforms worth pursuing. But this contempt and hostility ignores the benefits of having minor party MPs.
Less constrained by electoral pragmatism, and the excessive party discipline that has infected Australian politics, minor party MPs are able to expand public debate and raise issues that would otherwise be unrepresented.
Immigration reform is on such example.
In an issues paper released on Friday, the Productivity Commission raised the prospect of a price-based immigration system—similar to the system proposed ($) by Nobel Prize winning economist, Gary Becker. As The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
The Australian government would sell the right to immigrate to Australia – with migrants no longer accepted based on their skills or family connections – under radical proposals being examined by the government’s independent think tank.
The Productivity Commission is investigating a price-based immigration system that would use entry fees as the primary determinant for who gains entry to Australia.
This reform would be enormously beneficial—as the IPA’s Jason Potts explained on The Conversation.