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What are the two issues relating to democracy that needs public traction? (The Main Question After the 20th of March 2019 Meeting)

I would like to know before setting up the next Designing Open Democracy meetup.

What are the two issues relating to democracy that needs public traction?

Throw in your ideas and we can use that to shape the next meet!

Brian Khuu

  • We need to get parties and the goverment system to investigate not just their voting system... but focus even more on how their nomination process work. If the nomination process is not democratic, then even with a democratic voting process, the outcome will not be democratic. Garbage in, garbage out.

  • We need to push existing parties to focus on improving their own internal democracy.

Robert Crouch

  • Improving the public trust on the integrity of election oversight processes and audit process. (Who watches the watcher?)
  • How does public emotions effect election outcome? Can this be mitigated?
    • @mofosyne --> @Robert-Crouch I think you be interested in the discussion by Nicolas Gruen (, about how Vox Pop can lead to bad democratic outcome in election due to only getting a short snapshot of the public emotion that may not be a considered opinion of the public.

Kenneth Coghill (Via email)

  1. Submission to APS Review responding to "Priorities for Change", advocating stronger commitment to civil society engagement.
  2. Submission to Open Government Forum urging implementation of Commitment to civil society engagement.

  3. What will block democratic reform?

  4. What are the effect of poverty and inequality in democratic civil engagement?

Carol Campbell (Via Meetup. Slow internet)

  • The effect of Trump on truth, and the knock on effect to true informed Democracy
  • Particularly trust in democratic perticipation having any effect on society

Peter Howard

  • Education focused on the possible alternative democratic approaches. The ongoing research on the level of trust in systems of government around the world shows the Australia has very low levels in trust in particular with our political system. The aim should be to enable people to see alternative ways in which their views could be truly represented.

  • Engagement could be focused on the major issues facing the country. And the technology is available by which everyone in the country could be engaged with a high level of confidence and security. I would also propose using our national broadcasters (ABC and SBS) in a formal role to facilitate the rich conversations on policy.


  1. Stagnant Wages and Union Strength:
  2. Australia has faced stagnant wages for a decade, leading to economic growth favoring capital over wages.
  3. This situation exacerbates inequality and impacts the economy negatively.
  4. The "Change the Rules" campaign by unions aims to counter this by strengthening unions.
  5. Fernandalila emphasizes the need for public support to change industrial relations legislation.

  6. Recycling Crisis:

  7. Australia faces a recycling crisis as other countries, including China, no longer accept our recycling.
  8. Fernandalila calls for a sustainable solution to address the dumping of recycling into landfills.

Extra Question Response: - Fernandalila dismisses the idea that co-operatives can replace unions and asserts the necessity of unions to defend the working class. - She highlights the correlation between union membership and favorable wages/working conditions. - Acknowledges the importance of revitalizing unions and criticizes Australia's laws limiting union activities.

Response to Brian's Clarification: - Fernandalila expresses understanding and notes her interpretation that any relevant issue needing traction can serve as an experiment for democratic participation. - Acknowledges the group's focus on a fair playing field for ideas, highlighting the need for a more equitable and better democracy. - Stresses the importance of bringing together people from opposing political spectrums to push for a fairer game, akin to improving sportsmanship in a football game.

Elaboration Response by Paul Ross

Well, maybe I'm too blinkered; however, until we have a Universal Basic Income, the rest is just costly wasteful window-dressing. Political parties (all - Labor and Greens and Liberals and Nationals), GetUp, Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Council to Homeless Persons (CHP), Single Mothers and their Children etc. should be lobbied.

Elaboration Response by Robert Crouch

As some of you know, I am researching preferential voting. I do wish to gain public support (I presume this is what "traction" means) for my findings -- but not until my work is finished.

This research has already led me to the surprising discovery that certain VEC workers committed criminal offenses during our recent State election. I have indisputable proof, and have referred it matter to Victoria Police. This has general significance, because it reflects a general lowing of standards in the conduct of elections in recent years.

Thirdly, and most important, I wish to gain 'traction' with other members of this group. At our recent meeting I mentioned ideas coming from psychologist Albert Ellis about faulty emotions which, in my opinion, routinely undermine political work. Look for things which must be done, and you will surely fail. Look for things which can be done, and success is inevitable.

If this little group can make even the tiniest change to our society then we have truly done something magnificent. Then one success will lead to another.

Elaboration Response by Fernadalila

  1. Australia has been suffering with stagnant wages for the past decade. Economic growth has been overwhelmingly channeled to capital, instead of wages. This situation not only aggravates our inequality problem, but it is already affecting Australia's economy (low salaries = low buying power). The best way to counter this situation is to make our unions stronger. Australia has one of the most rigid industrial relations laws among the OECD countries. The current Unions campaign called "Change the Rules" is about this. They need public support to change our industrial relations legislation.

  2. Australia is dumping our recycling into landfill because China and other countries are not taking our recycling anymore. We need a sustainable solution for this.

Cheers, Fernanda

Extra Question By Brian: Thanks Fernandalila. The question is specifically asking about specific issues that effects our government ability to decide on all these issues (such as recycling policy). So given your answer is about a specific policy, I will need to take it as a comment rather than a response. However there can be an argument that strengthening unions can at least address the aspect the economic democracy aspect of a democracy. I do ask if you have also though about co-operatives corporate structures as well and if promotion of co-operative companies is another way to address this as an alternative or in conjunction with unions. What do you think?

Co-operatives would never replace unions in this matter. We need unions to defend the interests of the working class. Unions are necessary to level the democratic playing field which always tips towards the side with more money. Union membership in Australia is in its all time low. Much lower than any other OECD country. There is a very strong correlation between union membership and wages / working conditions. Even the IMF (where neoliberalism goes to 11) has been issuing some reports now that recommend the revitalisation of unions as a political force. It is a really important issue and Australia's laws put ridiculous and abusive limitations to unions.

On another note, I didn't realise the issues needed to be specifically related to democracy. I had understood that any relevant issue needing traction could serve as an experiment (laboratory) for us to try to mobilise and engage people into democratic participation.

Cheers, Fernanda

Response by Brian: Not a problem. I do know there is a lot of relevant issues that people are passionate about and thus your contribution is still valuable in that angle. However the philosophy of this group is that without a level and fair playing field for ideas, then good ideas will just die or get strangled by the current politics of the day. So it is in this group incentive to remain focused on the goal of a fairer and better democracy, which would require bringing together people from opposite spectrum of politics (e.g. anti-unionist and pro-unionist); And bringing them to push for a common and more fairer game. Think of pushing for better sportsmanship in a footy game after multiple matches of crappy referees and dirty sports tactics on both sides.