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Senate power under fire

MOVES by the Senate to obstruct the full sale of Telstra and the government’s tax changes have highlighted the power and role of the Senate.

According to Monash University School of Public Policy and Social Justice head Brian Costar, the Australian Senate can credibly claim to be the most powerful second chamber in the liberal democratic world.

“Current concerns about ‘excessive’ Senate power centre on two issues: whether the Senate should possess the power to impede money bills in ways that could force a House of Representative election and whether the Senate should be able to amend or reject ordinary legislation,” Mr Costar said.

The issues are debated in a new book Deadlock or Democracy? edited by Mr Costar with contributions from Democrats leader Meg Lees, Liberal Senator Helen Coonan, Labor Senator John Faulkner and Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans.

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