Australia's political duopoly only perpetuates a watered down democracy, which is now little more than a regional office for corporate interests, writes Andrew Chambers.
DEMOCRACY — I was raised to believe that meant if we had an issue to decide, we all discuss, we all get a vote and out of that poll the majority vote decides the issue.
Have I been fed me the wrong line? That doesn’t tally with the government we now live under.
Democracy is a sheen of wonderfulness covering a system of government which is now little more than a regional office for corporate interests.
Politicians individually claim some form of morality and independence, painting rosy pictures in their biographies. The grubby reality is that few of them can ever effectively represent their electorate, let alone their own morality and convictions.
Where once the party was a sorting process for policy and candidates, their role is now nothing more than that of a shingle on which to hang the corporate identity. They’ve created a walled garden of abundance from which they rule, almost uncontested.
The Labor/Liberal duopoly guarantees no political innovation. They are quite content to divide the spoils between them and maintain the pretence of being in opposition. The reality is that they are more alike than opposed, happily backing each other when it comes to opposing parliamentary reform or on truly contestable issues — such as the very rotten border protection policy. Where’s the opposition clamour for accountability for the "#onwatergate" scandal? Or the desire to close down the inhumane camps both have constructed and run?
That they receive twice the amount in payments for their electoral votes is just a starting point in the inequity and barriers to any real competition. Both have dubious schemes for funnelling money from private interests — the bulk of this anonymously received and very belatedly revealed. With their massive campaign war chests, the duopoly simply swamps all contrary thought. That buying power gets whatever editorial cast can be directed in reporting “the facts”.
Our compliant media doesn’t celebrate or explore diversity or innovation in politics — quite the opposite. While we are constantly reminded of the enormous upheaval caused by disruptive technologies in industry, not a peep on the future for politics. Is parliament some holy institution, that to mess with it will offend no less than Rupert/God?
This is the 21st century, the communications revolution arrived and all of society is transformed, bar the institution of parliament. As we are often reminded, the age of entitlement has ended. Direct democracy recognises that the forum for discussion and deliberation is reformed. That we are, by and large, an educated, informed and tolerant nation.
I look at my social media feeds and (occasionally) see the stories of the nation of Iceland, springing back from the kleptocratic years through direct democratic actions. They’ve jailed the criminal bankers, ousted corrupt parliamentarians, forgiven stupid debt. The result? Not anarchy, not disaster but one of the best performing economies in Europe.
It’s time to reclaim the franchise we’ve lent to parliament and re-engage in our democracy. There are many options, onlinedirectdemocracy.org being one. If you want to open your mind to the possibilities watch Pia Mancini from DemocracyOS or Clay Shirky explain the transformative power of Open Source and Github. Australia’s very own John Ayton talking about Pollyweb.
To do nothing guarantees more of the same.
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