Public contempt puts 'democratic fabric' under threat: Hawke
Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke has warned that growing public contempt for the parliamentary process threatens the "democratic fabric" in Australia.
Speaking in Canberra on Saturday night, he said: "I think it is absolutely tragic the way our parliamentary process and system is becoming ... [the subject of] not just disrespect and disrepute, but contempt."
Mr Hawke told a reunion dinner of the 1983 Canberra press gallery that he had a suggestion which, if implemented, "could make a fundamental difference to the whole fabric of our democratic society".
His proposal is that both major parties take a "specific legislative program" to the election on issues where they believe they have the answers.
But he added they should admit that, on some issues, such as a republic, they did not necessarily know all the right answers.
On these issues the parties should not take predetermined positions before bringing draft legislation into Parliament but should let Parliament decide.
Following that, whoever wins the election should undertake on those issues to "abide by the decision of the Parliament in a free and unfettered debate".
This would give Parliament a meaningful role and stop it being a "charade", he said.