Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has called for each state to be divided into six regions each represented by two senators to better represent regional Australia, but an expert says the representation problem has been created by the two major parties.
The member for New England has called for reforms to the way senators are elected because in his view, too many senators live in capital cities and not in the regions, even though senators are elected to represent whole states and territories.
Under Mr Joyce's plan, which he believes could be implemented without a referendum, geographical regions would have two senators each, with half of the regions to elect the representatives in each election cycle. No region would be more than 30 per cent of the state's landmass, he said, with the plan to be put to the Nationals' federal council on Sunday.
"If New York can live with two senators and they do a very good job, why does Adelaide need 11?"
Professor Ian McAllister from Australian National University's School of Politics and International Relations said the problem Mr Joyce was trying to solve was created by the political parties.
"If Barnaby Joyce's problem is the under-representation of country areas then the political parties need to deal with this," Professor McAllister said.
"I've heard that argument [regional representation] but if that's the problem they're trying to solve, political parties should be trying to solve it because in practice what the parties have created is a party list system."
Professor McAllister pointed to the systems in place in Ireland and Malta where parties informally align themselves with particular areas of electorates under the Hare-Clark system as a possible solution.
"We already have a system where politicians represent geographical areas - that's called the House of Representatives."
Asked whether the problem had been created by political parties on Monday, Mr Joyce said "well, this will fix it" and denied it would entrench the major parties and lock out minor parties.
The ACT and Northern Territory elect two senators every three years, with only Labor, Liberal and the Country Liberal Party (Northern Territory) elected.