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Democratic Audit Update October 2008

By Democratic Audit
Created 30/10/2008 - 12:20

by Democratic Audit Australia [1]

The latest update from the Democratic Audit program at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, on how our democracy is working.


Marketing Government: The public service and the permanent campaign

In the latest focussed audit, Kathy MacDermott shows how the marketing of government has invaded the core business of policy development and the everyday work of public servants. Her case studies illustrate how public servants have become part of the 'permanent campaign', putting at risk the distinction between marketing and explaining government policy and between genuine and politically tailored data.

• Read Report No. 10 (PDF) here [2]

• See all focussed audits here [3]

Donations inquiry

Members of the Democratic Audit gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Matters’ inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2008 in Canberra on 22 September 2008. The committee endorsed the Bill with minor amendments.

• Read the transcript of the Audit’s evidence here [4]

• JSCEM’s inquiry report is available here [5]

Green paper delays

Geoffrey Barker reports on the progress of the federal government’s two electoral reform green papers on Australian Policy Online.

• Read the article here [6]

Lessons from the United States

Audit member Brian Costar compared the US and Australian political donation regimes and found that theirs is much more transparent than ours in an article for the new website, Inside Story [7], published by the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology.

• Read the article here [8]

Lessons from Australia

Journalist Jill Lepore provided a lively history of the evolution of ballot voting in the United States – with appropriate references to the ‘Australian Ballot’ – in the New Yorker on 13 October 2008.

• Read the article here [9]

Gender and democracy

A new website to be launched in November will provide resources for those interested in feminist thought at its intersection with democracy, and a place for debate about these issues. According to the founders of the site, Jasmine Westendorf and Ruby Murray, “By examining the way in which gender interacts with democratic processes and debates, The Democracy Project seeks to collapse areas that are currently considered ‘women’s issues’ into broader societal discourse and research, and show that a healthy, functioning democracy requires that we re-negotiate the way in which the boundaries between gender and society are drawn.”

• Visit The Democracy Project here [10]

Reforming question time

In An Opportunity for Revitalization, Senator Alan Ferguson recommends replacing the current system, of one question without notice and one supplementary question from the questioner, with a system of one primary question on notice and multiple supplementary questions not confined to the questioner, and a stricter requirement for relevance of answers.

• Read the discussion paper here [11]

Queensland government welcomes FOI report

The Queensland government has expressed full support for 116 of the recommendations in The Right to Information, David Solomon’s review of Queensland’s Freedom of Information laws. The government either partially or in principle supports another 23 recommendations, with only two recommendations not accepted.

• The Queensland government’s response to the Solomon report, and the report itself, are available here [12]

Local government in New South Wales

This Briefing Paper by Jason Arditi of the Research Service, Parliament of New South Wales, looks at the operation of local government in NSW, examining the history and constitutional foundation of local government, together with the salient features of the Local Government Act 1993 and the service and regulatory functions set out by the Act.

• Read the paper here [13]

Indigenous governance

In Contested Governance: Culture, Power and Institutions in Indigenous Australia, a collection of papers from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, contributors examine the dilemmas and challenges involved in the Indigenous struggle for the development and recognition of systems of governance that they recognise as both legitimate and effective.

• Read this eBook here [14]

Auditing handbook

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) has released Assessing the Quality of Democracy: An Overview of the International IDEA Framework, which presents the organisation’s State of Democracy (SoD) Assessment Framework. Developed for public use around the world, the SoD Framework has to date been applied in some 20 countries worldwide since its first launch in 2000.

• The report is available here [15]

New Zealand electoral review

In September the NZ government announced the terms of reference and membership of an expert panel to review electoral administration and political party funding. A question mark hangs over the future of the committee, however, with the National Party indicating that it would abandon the plan if it wins government.

• Details of the panel’s work and composition are available here [16]

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