Our Readers' Opinions
February 11, 2005

Real senators need a senate

Editor: I want to suggest some answers to these two questions:

What the purpose of the senators is and why the senators must meet in their own assembly.{{more}}

Our parliament has 6 senators and 15 representatives. There is nothing special about the senators. They have no purpose in parliament that marks them as different from the constituency representatives. In other words I can see no reason for them to be in parliament. They have no cause to uphold and so just “follow fashion” the representatives – monkey see, monkey do.

Senators in any sensible constitution must have things to do that only they can do, and they must have room to do it properly, not mixed up between the members of the ruling party and the members of the opposing party. Our parliament or National Assembly needs real senators and a senate to fulfil this minimum purpose and to do these duties:

• To present the concerns of the main sections of society to each other for construction of a significant national opinion.

• To cultivate the unity and integrity of the community and refine the moral framework

• To hold aloft civil society principles of the renewal of creation/ the environment, reconstruction of gender relations, and advocacy for those least and last considered.

• To review, support and propose the legislative agenda, public policy, public practice and civil commitments.

When our senators have an agenda of their own then they need a space of their own in order to carry out their agenda. They cannot function properly when they are jammed together in a room with others who have a different, a legislative agenda. While the legislators have their legislative assembly, the senators need their separate senate assembly where they do the work of senators.

If we just look at the way that the parliament has mishandled important social and moral concerns like integrity legislation and the spread of crime and violence, then we ought to see that the partisan parliament needs another chamber which is not party dominated in order to lead us in national dialogue. That separate chamber which complements the legislative chamber is the senate – or we can choose another name for it.

The other important condition for a senate is that the members are not to be chosen by political parties. The members must be elected “from the fundamental sectors of the society.” In other words, the working people in the productive sector will elect their senators, the professionals also, the moral and cultural community too, the business sector as well.

This is the way ahead for our parliament as I see it.

Oscar Allen