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

Gordon Campbell:
On The Kim Regime

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US had a very clear objective and eventually offered a quid pro quo of the removal of some of its own missiles from Turkey. This time, there’s no clarity about what the US is seeking, or offering.

It hasn’t helped that the US and the global media consistently agree on calling North Korea and its leadership “crazy” and “irrational” and urging it to “come to its senses”. When you treat your opponent as being beyond reason, it gets hard to comprehend what their strategy is, let alone work out the terms of a viable compromise. More>>

 

Recovery: Economic Impact Of Kaikōura Quake Revealed

The report details the impact on small businesses and tourism caused by disruptions to transport infrastructure and the economic impacts... The impact on New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the first 18 months following the earthquake has been estimated at $450-$500 million. More>>

ALSO:

Human Rights Commission: Urgent Need For Action On Seclusion And Restraint

Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford says that while the report makes for sobering reading, the focus should now be on how the recommendations can be used to reduce the occurrence of seclusion and restraint in New Zealand and, in circumstances where it is necessary, to improve practices. More>>

ALSO:

CORRECTIONS (March 2017):

SCHOOL SECLUSION ROOMS (2016):

$11bn Capital Spend, New Debt Target: Steven Joyce On Budget Priorities

First, delivering better public services for a growing country – providing all New Zealanders with the opportunity to lead successful independent lives... And finally, we remain committed to reducing the tax burden and in particular the impact of marginal tax rates on lower and middle income earners, when we have the room to do so. More>>

ALSO:

JustSpeak Report: Bail Changes To Blame For New Billion Dollar Prison

In 2013 criminal justice spending was falling and the Government was mulling over what to spend the money on. 3 years later there are 10,000 people in prison and a new billion dollar prison is announced. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news