WATCH: How the Senate fails to represent regions

ON THE TABLE: Candidates for Capricornia Kate Giamarelos, Leisa Neaton, Lindsay Temple, Ken Murray and Michelle Landry at the debate at CQUni on Tuesday.
ON THE TABLE: Candidates for Capricornia Kate Giamarelos, Leisa Neaton, Lindsay Temple, Ken Murray and Michelle Landry at the debate at CQUni on Tuesday. Allan Reinikka Rokadebat

SIX percent of Australians live in 40% of the country.

It is a figure which does not quite add up for Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan who packed up his wife and four kids and moved to the regions when he was elected into the Senate in 2014.

Mr Canavan said he was aiming to reinstate the traditional values of the Senate which were to provide equal representation between regions and capital cities in Canberra.

"Back in 1901 the reason we had a senate was because the smaller states like here in Queensland and South Australia and Western Australia were concerned New South Wales and Victoria would dominate them in the House of Representatives," he said at the Capricornia candidates' debate at CQUniversity on Tuesday.

"In the senate there would be equal representation among states. But now 115 years down the track we have a senate where almost all the senators are exclusively concentrated in the capital cities."

He said one third of Australians lived outside capital cities but 21% of the 76 seats in the Senate were based in capital cities.

In Queensland, 10 of 12 senators live in the South East of which six are Brisbane based.

"In fact I think it should be the other way around, I think we should have all senators in the regions," he said. "Sydney and Melbourne have more. We (need) more representation in the senate out in the regions because that's why the senate was there, to represent those areas of county.

"But unfortunately we're failing at doing that. Here in Queensland we have slightly better representation in the regions (than other states) and I'm very proud for being one of those senators based in the regions."

A fair go for the regions was at the forefront of Greens candidate Kate Giamarelos' agenda.

Senator Matt Canavan
Senator Matt Canavan Chris Ison


She said regional development was dependent on the decentralisation of services and providing access for rural, regional and remote communities.

"As far as I understand our farmers are dying earlier because they are lacking key services," Ms Giamarelos said.

"It's putting in those mental health services to help those people cope in their situation and also bringing services closer to them and improving the services we have in our areas.

"Our farmers are smart people, they need access to education, to technology that's going to allow them to produce what they are doing with less resources and less time and less stress."

The Senate

There are 76 seats in the Senate, 12 for each state and two for ACT and NT

Senators are elected by a system of proportional representation for a period of six years.

A system of rotation ensures that half the Senate retires every three years.

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