Victoria is a creative and inclusive place but our outdated political structures aren’t able to harness the energy and ambition of our people.
We’ve all watched the goings on in parliament and thought, jeez, I could do better than that.
You most certainly do have the intelligence and judgement to perform just as well and likely better than the average politician.
And we believe that you should be given the opportunity to do their job.
The Victorian Independence Movement isn’t just about breaking free of the failed Australian federation and its toxic brand of Sydney politics.
It is about reshaping how we Victorians see and govern ourselves.
The way we make our own decisions and the nature of our politics.
Large polities like Victoria don’t often get the chance to do this. By and large we’re stuck with political architecture built in a bygone era.
Take the Legislative Council – or Upper House – of the Victorian Parliament.
A bigger collection of shonks, branch stackers, favour caller inerers, moon howlers and boozy lunch enthusiasts you will struggle to round up in a single place at one time.
Indeed, one single member – Adem Somyurek – personifies the problems of the Legislative Council.
Somyurek’s determination to wreak revenge on his former Labor allies has turned the Legislative Council into an even bigger farce than normal.
With Somyurek pulling the strings, the redundant chamber recently referred the “Red Shirts” scandal to Victoria’s Ombudsman for a second time, despite the Ombudsman having already investigated the matter and the Victorian public being aware of her findings when they voted in the 2018 election.
Apart from Somyurek, could the average person name more than one – even one? – member of the Legislative Council?
Highly unlikely. Yet on they chunter, pursuing personal vendettas and charging at political windmills on our money.
Imagine if after independence, we just did away with them, like when Queensland’s “suicide squad” voted their upper house out of existence in 1921.
And instead, independent Victoria had a single elected chamber of parliament that makes laws through a strong committee system.
That’s how the Scots decided their reconstituted parliament should work when it sat again in 1999 after hundreds of years in abeyance.
But once those laws are agreed by a single chamber (unicameral if you want to get your Antony Green on) Victorian Parliament, there could be a process of review by members of the general public.
Think of it like political jury service. Or a formalised version of the pub test so beloved of our media. We’ll call it the Review Group from here.
There’d be a decent sample size, a hundred people randomly selected from across the nation of Victoria would serve at any one time.
It would then review the legislation and reject elements it doesn’t like, or suggest amendments, with the legislation not passing until the Review Group has given its approval.
There’s contemporary examples of this working well in practice.
In Ireland, Citizens Assemblies helped the Republic deal with the fractious process of amending its constitution to permit abortion, among many other issues.
In general, this process is known is sortition.
And it is a way of harnessing the wisdom and judgement of the citizens of a polity.
The Victorian Independence Movement believes that the average person in Victoria is more than capable of understanding and informing the laws that govern them.
Naturally, this process would require some legal architecture to work.
Would the Review Group sit for a certain period and assess all legislation in that time?
Or would each individual proposed law have its own discrete Review Group?
There’d be issues about potential conflicts of interest.
We’d need to think about whether the identities of those in the Review Group are public or anonymous.
This is work for the constitutional conventions that will attend Victorian independence.
But one thing is for sure.
The way we run things right now is not working.
And although we face immense challenges at the moment, they will seem like mere irritations in coming years with the full impact of the climate emergency affecting every aspect of our lives.,
There is no point Victoria leaving the failed federation only to keep things as they were, but with no Canberra.
Immense change is coming whether we like it or not.
Relying on outdated and discredited political systems got us into this mess.
Only we can get ourselves out of it.
Victorian independence offers a chance to do away with the cobwebs and blood feuds of party politics.
And put the people who know their own needs, fears and ambitions better than anyone else in a true position of power.
As it should be.