Menadue, John: Our democracy is decaying from within

John Menadue

Our democracy is decaying from within‘, Pearls & Irritations, 16 September 2021

Former senior public servant and businessman calls for a summit of community leaders to help chart democratic renewal.

With the loss of trust in our political institutions and politicians today, we need a political summit to build consensus on democratic reform and the restoration of trust. Such a proposal, if carefully explained and implemented, could produce real political and policy dividends for its advocates and more importantly, for Australia.

“Democracy” has been narrowed down to a view that it is only about elections and not about well-functioning institutions. Our democracy is becoming more and more a facade. There are so many signs of decay — unchallenged lies and falsehoods, exponential growth in rorts and wasteful expenditure, corporate capture, favours to political mates (JobKeeper), lobbying in secret, a highly partisan and corrupting media and Clive Palmer-style disinformation. Our democracy is more and more up for sale to the highest bidder.

The military intrudes more than ever into our civil life, from the appointment of Generals as Governors General, Operation Sovereign Borders to harass asylum seekers and now a General to take charge of the  vaccination program …

“Strong leaders” are responding with corrosive  but seemingly attractive  messages. We are heading down the quasi fascist road.

Has a long list of possible reforms: less party discipline in Parliaments; more funding for the Australian National Audit Office; strengthened Parliamentary Committee system; stronger research and analysis capacity across the Parliament; elect more independents to Parliament; strengthen the public service; reduce contracting out; citizen juries and citizen assemblies; stregthen controls on lobbyists and on the ‘revolving door’ – former ministers and senior public servants and military people going into private employment; election donation reform; foreign interference regulation; controls on ministerial staff appointments; stronger Freedom of Information laws; whistle-blower protection; anti-corruption commission with real powers; shakeup of Australian Federal Police; curb war powers of prime ministers; media reform; review of defamation laws.



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