Models of participatory democracy to be inspired by Greens’ $2 million fund

By Melissa Coade

March 31, 2022

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2022 Queen’s Birthday public sector honours listed here. (Image: Adobe/Rafael Ben-Ari)

The Greens have asked the Department of Parliamentary Services to administer a fund it has established to trial innovative models of democratic participation.

A trial to introduce more public participation in government decision-making has been floated by the minor party to boost the involvement of ordinary citizens in choosing how their taxes are spent. 

Senator Larissa Waters, who is the Greens spokesperson on democracy, said the initiative formed part of a broader policy to ​​revitalise Australian democracy.

“Democracy should be more than simply casting a vote and then spending the next three years being ignored or taken for granted by your so-called representatives. 

“Genuine participation in the decisions that affect our lives and our future will make for better policy, better outcomes and stronger, more cohesive communities,” Waters said. 

“The Greens believe that cleaning up politics needs to start from the ground up, which is why we’ll invest in exploring ways for the community to participate more directly in the decisions that affect us all,” she added. 

Some of the programs the new fund will support include participatory budgeting to give the community more say in the allocation of public money, citizen juries, and exploring ways that petitions which attract over 5,000 signatures can trigger a parliamentary debate of issues. 

The fund will also investigate reforms to Question Time to explore how ministers can receive and answer questions from the public.

Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo said public confidence in democratic systems had eroded in the last 15 years.

“Who can blame anyone for cynicism when incompetence, corruption, and abuse of power are so out of control?,” he asked. 

“The best way to rebuild confidence in democracy is to actually get people involved in decision-making. It’s so crucial that we don’t just get money out of politics, but that we also throw the doors wide open to public participation.

“People working together to find good solutions will come to better decisions than politicians making self-interested calculations,” Hollo said.


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