Regional Australians could have specific senators assigned to represent them in federal parliament under a new proposal from cabinet minister Matt Canavan.
The Nationals senator says results from the May election show the divide between country and city is larger than ever.
He is concerned that while two-thirds of Australians live in the nation's cities, that's not in proportion with the 80 per cent of senators who reside in capital cities.
Of those representing Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, 11 of the 12 senators from each state is based in the capital.
"The biggest capital city in Australia is effectively the Australian Senate," he said in a speech to the Sydney Institute on Tuesday evening.
"This is a problem because it does not give a fair voice to the smaller parts of Australia."
He says the constitutional requirement for all states to have equal Senate representation does enshrine an implicit voice for the regions.
"However, that regional voice is failing to be heard over the din of loud Australians," he said.
"There are ways we can seek to amplify the regional voice within our democracy and I think that is essential to help improve that to make better decisions that are more widely respected and help restore more confidence in our system of government."
Senator Canavan, whose main office is in the regional Queensland city of Rockhampton, suggests a solution could be to formalise the "patron" arrangements the major parties have, where senators are assigned particular lower house seat regions to look after.
He notes that at the moment such arrangements are done internally within the major parties and tend to become highly partisan and focused on winning seats.
Under his proposal, senators for each state would nominate which region they want to be the patron for and the Senate would then allocate them, perhaps deciding by ballot if too many people seek to represent the one area.
Senators would report annually to a committee on how they have represented their patron area and what major concerns those constituents held.
"Although this is a minor change, a level of public accountability and measurability may help disperse the focus of the Senate to the regional areas of Australia," Senator Canavan said.
Australian Associated Press