Research collaboration delivers reform options for Australian democracy

A research collaboration between the newDemocracy Foundation and the University of Melbourne has produced a new paper outlining 15 key reforms to improve the Australian democratic process.

Melbourne University’s School of Government’s Principal Fellow, Nicholas Reece, said the paper delivers practical, realistic reforms.

“They will not solve all the problems of our democracy, but we firmly believe that Australia’s democracy will be significantly improved should the next Australian Federal Government adopt some these 15 recommendations.”

The newDemocracy Foundation Executive Director Iain Walker said the 2019 federal election presented an opportunity to rekindle a spirit of ingenuity that once earned Australia the reputation as a world leader in democratic innovation.

“It has been a long time since we have seen any innovation or renewal of Australian political practice and ideals – we should be open to trials and then seeing what earns the community’s trust and support,” Mr Walker said.

Representatives from the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens have been consulted on the document and indicated their support for a number of the initiatives.

“This is not intended as an election time scorecard on the parties, rather it is the start of a bi-partisan conversation about practical and achievable reforms which can be made to improve our democracy,” Mr Reece said.

The 15 reform options for renewing democracy in Australia include:

  1. A review of parliamentary terms

  2. A truly independent speaker and president

  3. New seating arrangements in the House of Representatives and the Senate

  4. More ‘free votes’ in Parliament

  5. Campaign finance and political party funding reform

  6. Greater reporting transparency from political parties

  7. Candidate information packs at elections

  8. Citizen input into elections and our democracy

  9. Truth in advertising during election campaigns

  10. Professional training of ministerial staff, MPs and ministers

  11. Stronger regulation on lobbying

  12. Executive appointments

  13. A major trial of a citizens’ jury

  14. Updating the Australian Constitution

  15. A commitment to a better Federation

The paper can be found here.

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