Following my question yesterday about the representativeness of government, ABC Radio National “Life Matters’ program interviews Get Up Manager, Simone Sheikh, Associate Professor Melanie Oppenheimer (University of New England), and Professor Lyn Carson (Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney) with callers, shows that there is quite some interest on increasing the engagement of the individual at all levels of community and governance. It seems many are interested in systems that ensure the parliament must debate issues that are shown to be strongly regarded by the community eg by petitions of 50,000 people. Complex social problems may be better solved by citizens parliaments and referendum
Lack of political will is directly related to the lack of ability to take risk. Political parties could do more to work with the mass of community. But are political parties even relevant to governance? Governance by political parties seems ineffective and inefficient. Many politicians are career focused rather than community service or problem focused.
However, the party system has the government system locked in. Unless the State and Commonwealth parliaments listen to the voices asking for engagement and solution orientation, it is doubtful Australia will avoid some major social damage over the next 10 – 30 years, and major economic damage over the next 20 – 50 years. Why? Without more effective governance, the next 10 years will see a rise of older people living in squalour, while comfortable older and younger people and wealthy companies put the boot in by withholding resources. And, as we have seen with the mining super tax debacle, this is all too easy for wealthy companies to do. As mining companies showed recently, they have the wealth and the levers to severely frighten a large section of the whole populace, and bring down a goverment (or at least a Prime Minister). Well, I didn’t vote for the Mining Companies. I vote for a government who shall look after the affairs of the nation, now and into the future, and including the relationship of the nation with all the nations of the world.
Have we reached a crossroads? There is a significant section of the community who are just too selfish to vote for the best outcome for everyone. This group can dictate who is the government of the day. This is a group who are happy to see others suffer, live poor qualities of life, and die miserably. We can’t just look at politicians to see how democracy must change. It must change by the ability of regular citizens to be givers rather than takers.