What works? Democracy in Australia and beyond

MosaicLab's co-founder Nicole Hunter recently took part on a panel of esteemed guests  discussing potential futures for democracy across Australia and the World.  The panel formed part of the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) Smart Governance Conversation on Desirable Futures series. 

The evening saw a very interesting conversation take place around democracy in Australia and beyond and ideas for doing it differently in the future.   If you weren't lucky enough to make it on the evening, today we're sharing the official video of the panel discussion. 

Nicole joined Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM, Founder of The newDemocracy Foundation Professor John Dryzek, Director Centre for Deliberative Democracy, Institute of Governance and Policy AnalysisDr Nicole Curato and Professor Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton and Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis) .  The event was facilitated by Virginia Haussegger, director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra.

In this Smart Governance Conversation on desirable futures, a panel discussed 'Doing Democracy Differently - What works? 

The panel touched on a number of issues and challenges facing democracy in Australia and beyond including increasingly low public trust in our political system, the rise of populism (promoting easy answers to complex questions), citizens' ability to affect the political system and the impact of a 24/7 media and the digital world.   

They also provided interesting ideas on how to address this issue, ranging from continuing to increase the use of random selection and deliberative processes around big issues, to the creation of a randomly selected citizens review body working as an upper house in Australia.  There was also discussion about the need to consider not only inputs (such as those provided to a government by a citizens' jury) but the outputs or implementation of decisions, and suggestions around the need to work with elected representatives to encourage better representation at the executive level. 


Some of the many great quotes from the evening included: 

"Citizens have no ambitions to power ... they’re not there (in a deliberative process) to be re-elected.  Like a criminal jury, they’re only obligation is to do right by their community.” - Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM

"Its important to look at democracy not as a finished product but a continuing program of development." - Professor Gerry Stoker

"I really enjoyed the Geelong Citizens' Jury, because it was discussion around democracy itself.  And I think that's the conversation we need in Australia - we need a random selection of people to come together and talk about how we get properly represented."  -Nicole Hunter

"Where the exciting stuff (is) ...for deliberative democracy, is (considering) how you can engage the similar dynamic we see in citizens juries within political parties." - Dr Nicole Curato

"We know that citizens are capable of comprehending complex issues and sifting through the arguments for and against different policy proposals. The bigger question is figuring out what is the place of mini-publics in large systems of governments."  - Professor John Dryzek


The IGPA in collaboration with the Museum of Australian Democracy and Telstra designed a series of nationally significant conversations with thought leaders on a wide range of topics from the future of indigenous policy to new ways of delivering public services to reconnecting citizens and government over November.  Learn more about this series of conversations here.