|Dr Norman Abjorensen The State of Democracy in Australia
Despite some challenges most Australians are proud of our nation and its democratic approach to citizenship. Indeed on many criteria, Australia has been a pioneering democracy. As one of the oldest continuing democracies, however, a health check has long been overdue. ,
This is an opportunity to hear Dr Abjorensen present a report card on the Australian Democracy at the New Institute.
Since 2002 the Democratic Audit of Australia, a major democracy assessment project, has been applying an internationally tested set of indicators to Australian political institutions and practices. The indicators derive from four basic principles – political equality, popular control of government, civil liberties and human rights and the quality of public deliberation.
This health check provides comparative data from Australia’s nine jurisdictions, as well as from three comparator democracies, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for reform of our democracy. Some of the findings are disturbing. For example, Australia has fallen well behind in the regulation of private money in elections and in controlling the use of government or parliamentary resources for partisan benefit. Transparency and accountability have suffered from relatively weak “Freedom of Information” regimes and from executive dominance of parliaments
Dr Abjorensen is a former national editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, an award winning journalist and has worked as a political adviser, speechwriter and policy advocate. In 2009 he published a book Australia: The State of Democracy with Marian Sawer & Phil Larkin.