What do politicians do in Parliament once elected?
There is no formal job description for the work of a parliamentarian under the current system. In general, backbenchers have great freedoms in performing three broad roles: parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member.
What is the role of a Democratic Reform Alliance Parliamentary Member?
The essential job of a Democratic Reform Alliance Parliamentary Member is to investigate, analyse and describe the provenance of money influencing the policy and decisions of government and opposition Members of Parliament and Senators.
The role is to transmit this back to the Management Committee and party members through internal Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Subcommittees and to represent the will of the party membership by voting in Parliament in accordance with the direction of party members.
What is a Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Subcommittee and what does it do?
Democratic Reform Alliance will establish important internal portfolio subcommittees that shadow the Cabinet and administrative arrangements of the Public Service. The Portfolio Subcommittees will in effect constitute a shadow cabinet structure across all areas of government activity.
Each Portfolio Subcommittee will be staffed by invited and duly appointed subject matter experts, a member of the Management Committee, and a Parliamentary Member. Parliamentary Members will co-chair the Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Subcommittees.
The role of the Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Subcommittees is to examine the flow of campaign and donation money through the portfolio.
Parliamentary Members are required to become experts in the theme of transparency for their allocated portfolios and use their location in Parliament to investigate, question, and report to the Portfolio Subcommittee and the broader party spurious political funding, conflicts of interest, corruption, rorting etc. in their subject area.
This work will feeds into the broader public relations and media agenda of the party.
Who will sit on the Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Subcommittees?
The party will seek to access highly skilled and committed recently retired public servants in Canberra to volunteer to perform a wide range of high skilled volunteer activities including research, social media engagement, office management, and other administrative and office support tasks.
Retired public servants, academics, and other invited experts are expected to provide the main expertise to the Democratic Reform Alliance Portfolio Sub-Committees.
Would Parliamentary Members participate in Parliamentary Committees?
No. Democratic Reform Alliance candidates would not participate in Parliamentary Committees unless they are directly relevant to the issue of transparency.
Why wouldn’t Democratic Reform Alliance Parliamentary Members participate in Parliamentary Committees?
The Australian Government sources policy advice from private consultants, industry and corporate lobbies, or the Australian Public Service. Rarely does it listen to the views of its own back bench, and even more rarely does it taken into account the views of minor parties or independents in the committees.
Engaging with potentially divisive political and policy issues through the parliamentary committee system may invite controversy, dilute the limited but critical reform agenda of the party, and detract from the electability of Democratic Reform Alliance candidates. Instead Democratic Reform Alliance Parliamentary Members will work through the Democratic Reform Alliance portfolio subcommittees to maintain the focus of the party on its transparency agenda.
The role supports the requirement that Democratic Reform Alliance be a small target with a narrow but profound agenda until the reform platform is implemented.
What do Parliamentary Members do in their electorates once elected?
Once elected Parliamentary Members will maintain an ordinary electorate office and will seek to address the needs of local constituents through properly staffed and trained electoral support officers.
Parliamentary Members will be required to work with Democratic Reform Alliance’s public relations and media unit to promote the party and Democratic Reform Alliance agenda in the local electorate as required.
Are Parliamentary Members expected to be experts in government policy?
No. The detail, complexity, and amount of legislation going into the Parliament make it impossible for Parliamentary Members (or anyone) to provide either off-the-cuff or detailed policy or media responses without proper briefing and support from an organisation.
Parliamentary Members are not expected to form or defend views on the broad sweep of government policy or on detailed legislation introduced into the Parliament. To expect or require this would be unrealistic, unfair, and disastrous for both the Member and Democratic Reform Alliance.
Parliamentary Members are selected to represent Democratic Reform Alliance because they agree with the analysis of the situation facing ordinary Australian voters and agree to work within the Democratic Reform Alliance structure to bring change to the system.
Are Parliamentary Members expected to negotiate with the Government on detailed legislation?
No. Democratic Reform Alliance Parliamentary Members are not expected to bargain and horse trade with the government on specific legislation
The lack of resourcing of independents in comparison with the enormous resources of government underlines the inability of impendent and minor party candidates to properly represent their constituents.
The fact that Independents and minor party candidates end up negotiating detailed social and economic policy with the government without proper support is an indictment on the failure of representative democracy that stacks the deck against non-major party representatives.
This is Democratic Reform Alliance’s major critique of the role of independents and minor parties.
Democratic Reform Alliance addresses this issue by providing firm support and direction to its Parliamentary Members through its internal portfolio subcommittees, centralised research, democratic structure and clear allocation of roles.
What is the Candidate Deed?
Parliamentary Members are engaged by the party under a Candidate Deed that sets out the terms of the engagement. Under the Candidate Deed Parliamentary Members are bound to follow the directions of the membership as expressed in secret ballots conducted through the Democratic Reform Alliance Voting Platform.
Why will Parliamentary Members abide by the Candidate Deed after they are elected?
Yes. The terms of the Candidate Deed may include a requirement to:
- pay a forfeitable bond to the party prior to accepting the candidature;
- pay 20% of the gross Parliamentary salary into a Democratic Reform Alliance trust fund (invested on behalf of the Candidate) with the fund to be forfeited and applied to the party in the event the Parliamentary Member does not complete their term of engagement for reasons apart from ill-health or other compassionate or compelling circumstamces;
- extend a lien or second mortgage over the family residence.