Major party Senators are highly partisan actors, their strong partisanship is partly a result of their backgrounds in central office work in their political parties, and also a product of their election by means of a de facto list system of proportional representation, with centralised selection of lists. If the Senate's electoral system makes major party Senators heavily dependent on party, it also largely frees them of accountability to the electoral district they represent. Due to their pre-parliamentary careers and the influence of electoral rules, Senators are available, in several senses, to perform key tasks, both prior to and during the formal election campaign, in assisting their parties to secure the maximum number of House of Representatives seats. This role, now institutionalised in the major parties and referred to as 'duty Senatorship', is an important aspect of electoral professionalism in Australian political parties. But how professional really are major party senators? Do they adequately serve their party in the pursuit of lower house seats, the accumulation of which determines which major party forms government?
What distractions exist which may take away from this electoral professional role?show more