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by reception
posted 20/08/2013


Please join my producer, Lachlan Orr, and myself, from 4pm on Friday 30/8/13, here at 89.7FM Eastside Radio, for a special edition of Drive Friday – NSW Senate candidates forum


This is not Lateline … candidates will be constrained to discuss ideas solely on their merits; “No Politics, Please – We’re Intelligent”!


The questions to be asked, and the rules for the discussion, appear below.


We look forward to your company on the 30th – from 4pm, 89.7FM


Jon Shapiro


Drive Friday






1. Say anything you like, within the limits set by the Standing Orders [see below]


2. What do you understand by the doctrine of the separation of powers under the Westminster system?  Or, what is the parliament for, or what does parliament do; and, what is the primary function of a member of parliament, what else does a member of parliament do?


3. I recommend a lay person’s guide to our constitution, It’s Your Constitution – Governing Australia Today, by Professor of Law at Melbourne University, Cheryl Saunders.   She says (in the Second Edition, Federation Press, 2003):


… we generally accept that all citizens are full members of the Australian political [sic] community and that all people who can vote and stand for election are Australian citizens. (at 33, emphasis added)




… in Australia and in other Western democracies [sic] it is possible to identify a core of rights without which we would not accept that government was really democratic.


The most obvious are the rights to vote and to stand for Parliament or for any other elected office. (at 81, emphasis added)


Do you agree with this view of citizenship?  If so, what do you think we should do about (a) Section 44 of the Constitution (which disqualifies dual citizens and public servants, amongst others, from being chosen for or sitting in parliament); and (b) Commonwealth electoral law (which requires a deposit of $1,000 for lower house candidates and $2,000 for upper house candidates, and imposes different requirements for different classes of candidates, including arduous requirements for independent candidates, such as the requirement to have 100 nominators)?


4. If elected, what will you do with your time and resources (NOT policy matters, covered in Q1, nor which party or leader you would support for PM, etc, but what will you and your staff actually do; eg “I will gauge the views of my electorate by listening to talk-back radio, going everywhere by taxi, and spending non-sitting weeks on an electorate pub-crawl”, and/or “one member of my electorate staff will answer phone calls and spend one day a week responding to emails, the rest will be dedicated to party fundraising”)


5. Imagine you are in parliament, listening to debate on an issue about which your party has already taken a position; during the course of debate, where relevant issues are raised which were not raised during party discussions, you become convinced that the position your party has taken is contrary to the public good – what do you do?


6. Do you have a vision for constitutional reform?  If so, what is it, and on what philosophical principles is it based, if any?


Standing Orders


1. Because space in the studio is limited: (a) all non-candidates shall wait outside the studio (they can hear the discussion through a radio in our reception area); and (b) candidates may have to alternate between standing back and sitting in front of a microphone, and/or they may share a microphone

2. The host will act as chair of the discussion, and will ask the questions

3. Each candidate shall answer the same questions; the host will ask one question at a time, and each candidate shall answer that question, in turn, before we move on to the next question (discussions on separate questions will be separated by music breaks, played by the host); irrespective of where discussion is up to, the host will play music on the cusp of 5pm

4. Candidates shall try to answer each question briefly, within a few minutes; however, there will be no time limits on any particular answer if the speaker has something which, in the opinion of the host, is worthwhile saying and requires the time to be said

5. Candidates shall only speak when invited to do so by the host; candidates may indicate their intention to speak by raising their hand

6. Candidates shall be heard in silence (except when the host speaks); candidates shall not interject, or otherwise talk over the host or the candidate speaking in their turn (see also Standing Order 12, below)

7. Candidates shall comply with the directions of the host; including, but not limited to, when the host says “order”, everyone else present in the studio shall cease talking immediately, including the person whose turn it is to speak

8. The host may occasionally ask a speaker questions (for example, see Standing Order 11, below), or engage in debate with a speaker; the host may also make a contribution to the discussion on each question after other candidates have spoken to the question

9. Candidates shall confine their remarks solely to the merits or otherwise of policies, either in relation to what may eventually be expressed in the form of a parliamentary bill (ie, broadly, public policy issues), or relating to what they intend doing as a member of parliament (eg how they will allocate their time); candidates shall NOT comment on personalities, opinion polls, press reportage, social media, party policies, matters within the jurisdiction of the Executive arm of government (except where the view or policy put forward is of a kind which may eventually be expressed in the form of a parliamentary bill), or any other matter not relevant to the merits or otherwise of ideas

10. If a candidate makes a comment in contravention of the above standing order, it shall be dealt with by the host, only; candidates shall not have any right of reply to a comment made about them or (if applicable) their party, and they shall not protest on air about not having this right

11. Candidates may, if they really want to (see Standing Order 14, below), use weasel words, management bollocks, political bollocks, or other forms of vagueness or sensationalism; however, if they do, the host may ask for clarification (eg, if a candidate says “capitalism” or “capitalist system”, the host will probably stop them to ask “what does that mean?”), or, in extreme cases, the host may direct the candidate to stop talking (that is, you will not waste everyone’s time talking nonsense; this is not Lateline)

12. While we are on air, all candidates shall treat the host and each other with courtesy and respect; however, while humour is not discouraged, candidates shall not interject or talk over the person whose turn it is to speak to make a humorous or otherwise apparently-friendly comment

13. Contravention of these standing orders by a particular candidate shall result in a warning, in the first instance, but sustained contravention may result in the host excluding the candidate from the discussion

14. Several thousand people will be listening, so it is in everyone’s interest if candidates appear to be reasonable people.