Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Is the quality of our democracy an election issue?

Is the quality of our democracy an election issue?


A well-attended conference in Wellington at the weekend heard and discussed a number of presentations which raised questions about the current quality of our democracy. The conference was hosted by the St Andrews Trust for the Study of Religion and Society and Public Good and the aspirations of many organisations and the approaches they are taking to achieve a richer kind of democracy were also on the agenda.

Professor Jane Kelsey outlined a number of specific and differing ways in which the secretive negotiation of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) - and their negotiation outside of a rules-based international framework such as the World Trade Organisation - impinge on our democratic rights.

Other keynote presentations included Bronwyn Hayward presenting the work she has been doing on citizenship education for children, and Michael Macaulay on progress towards our participation in the Open Government Partnership.

Presentations from organisations such as Loomio, OntheFence, JustSpeak and Askaway demonstrated the work younger people are doing to support and encourage democratic engagement and the inclusion of a broader range of voices.

Victoria Senior Lecturers Sandra Grey and Charles Sedgwick presented their latest research on the situation of non-governmental organisations many of which are also dependent on government funding. The number who felt they were highly successful in having their key concerns heard by government stood at 3.2%, and 76% felt that their role in providing dissenting voices was not valued by the government.

There were presentations about the need for quality information to be available through an unbiased, publicly funded television channel, about the extent to which our elections have become vulnerable to capture by big money, about participatory models of democracy and about ways in which democracy is being undercut.

Arising out of discussions seeded by the presentations, some key concerns emerged: conference participants regarded the lack of adequate information and/or opportunity to take a full part in democracy to be one of these. This was through poor quality of coverage in press and broadcast media, the lack of coverage of opportunities to make submissions and the excessive use of urgency in passing legislation, and real or effective disempowerment of marginalised groups. Another concern of conference participants was the need for our children’s positive experience of citizenship and democracy to be nurtured. There is also a need to raise awareness of the ways our ability to participate have been eroded. On a more hopeful note participants were keen to have opportunities to try out more active participatory models such as participatory budgeting at local government level.

Between the presentations identifying incremental encroachments to our democracy and the hopes for something better it seems clear that the quality of our democracy deserves to be something that people consider.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Departure Speech: Governor-General’s State Farewell Luncheon

"...Unfortunately I was unable to get to the Antarctic, the Chatham Islands and the Kermadecs. A dicky heart thwarted our travel to the Antarctic; and even though I volunteered to parachute into the Kermadecs to join the Young Blake expedition, time, commitments and officials frustrated my plans to visit the Kermadecs and Chathams." More>>

ALSO:

New Research: Most Homeless People Working Or Studying

“The cost of housing has been rising without corresponding increases in income, whilst the number of state houses per capita has been in decline. Many low-income people are missing out on housing, whether we recognise them as ‘homeless’ or not. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Traynor: New Offender Info Sharing Plan

“This Bill delivers on that step-change by moving away from name-based records held by individual agencies to a shared, anchor identity based on unalterable information, such as fingerprints and facial recognition. It also gives agencies access to the drivers’ licence photo database and birth, death and marriages information." More>>

  • NZ Law Foundation - New $2M fund for research on information challenges
  • Littoral: New Ship To Deliver Enhanced Naval Capability

    Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has approved a Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force recommendation to request tenders for a new naval ship to support littoral operations. More>>

    July:

    After King's Labour Snub: Māori Party And Kiingitanga To Work Together

    Māori Party Co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox met with Kiingitanga representatives in Wellington yesterday to discuss working together on key issues for the betterment of Māori. More>>

    ALSO:

    Waitangi Claim On Rehabilitation: The 'Justus' System For Māori Not Good Enough

    Closing statements at the Waitangi Tribunal case against Corrections called for immediate steps and a comprehensive review to address the high rate of Māori reoffending. More>>

    ALSO:

    Advice: PM Sets Rules For Ministers' Treatment Of Public Servants

    Prime Minister John Key has laid down the law about the way ministers and public servants should interact, saying ministers may not always like the advice they receive, but they must listen to it carefully, respectfully and professionally. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: On The Funding Changes In Special Needs Education, And Uber

    The plan to strip out the educational support for older “special needs” children in order to meet the existing shortfall in funding for special needs in early childhood education is so miserly and relentlessly stupid as to defy belief… More>>

    SPECIAL EDUCATION (& More):

    Online Learning Plans:

    Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Politics
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news