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Democratic Audit Update March 2007


by Democratic Audit of Australia

The latest update from the Democratic Audit program at ANU on how our democracy is working.



How well does Australian democracy serve Australian women?

The Democratic Audit’s Focussed Audit Number 8, How well does Australian democracy serve Australian women? by Sarah Maddison and Emma Partridge, is now available, in advance of International Women’s Day. It finds that Australia, once a leader in efforts to establish equality between men and women, has slid backwards on gender equality over the past decade, with many of the gains made by women in earlier decades now undone. The report is available to download from the website. Limited numbers of hard copies are available from the Audit (individual copies free, additional copies at $10.00).

Dr Maddison will present the findings of the paper in the 2007 Pamela Denoon Lecture on 7 March at The Australian National University. Full details are available here.

Election funding in New Zealand

Andrew Geddis (University of Otago), author of Electoral Law in New Zealand; practice and Policy (LexisNexis, Jan 2007), reviews New Zealand’s system of election funding in the light of the 2005 election in a new paper for the Audit. A series of serious breaches of the rules by several parties have been documented, but with little prospect of punishment. Enforcement of the rules is weak, with breaches treated as ‘victimless crimes’. However, such continued breaches risk undermining the legitimacy of the whole electoral process.

Funding arrangements for parliament

The Hon David Hawker, Speaker of the House of Representatives, considers the funding arrangements for the Australian parliament. Drawing on examples from overseas, he suggests changes to parliament’s funding and administration to strengthen its independence.

Senate votes against accountability measures

Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Murray recently moved a motion in the Senate, noting last year’s Canadian reforms in the area of accountability. The Canadian reforms cover the issues of political donations, whistleblower protection, and restrictions on Ministers and staffers engaging in lobbying work after they have left office. Senator Murray’s motion called for the government to consider whether Australian legislation sufficiently addresses these issues of transparency and accountability. The motion was defeated on government numbers. To see how your Senators voted, look at Hansard, p.13, here.

Crime and Corruption Commission transcripts

The hearings of the Western Australian Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry into former WA premier Brian Burke and his associates are coming to an end, with two State ministers being sacked in three days as a result of evidence from phone taps. Three ministers in all have been sacked as a result of the inquiry. The transcripts of the hearings are available from the CCC website.

The independence of electoral administration

Audit contributor and former Australian Electoral Commissioner, Professor Colin Hughes, is giving a Senate Occasional Lecture on 'The independence of electoral administration'. The lecture will cover the development of the Australian system of electoral administration and consider the level of independence achieved. Admission is free, inquiries to the Senate Procedure Office (Tel. 02 6277 3074; Email. Research.sen@aph.gov.au) When: Friday 23rd March 2007, 12.15 - 1.15 Where: Main Committee Room, Parliament House, Canberra

ACT electoral compendium

The ACT Electoral Commission has published an Electoral Compendium, full of information about the electoral process for the Territory. It is available from their website.

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