Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

For Queen or country

By Greg Barns - posted Tuesday, 3 October 2006


The survey recently which shows about 80 per cent of Australians have no idea of the name of their Governor-General Michael Jeffery is indicative of the fact most people see the role of the Queen's representative as being irrelevant to their lives.

This survey, published in The Courier-Mail, provides a valuable signpost for the next push towards an Australian republic.

Unless there is substantial and genuine community involvement in the debate about what sort of office should replace the Governor-General in a republic, then it will be viewed as a waste of time and money by many Australians.

Advertisement

The challenge for republicans is to make sure the vast bulk of Australians know and care passionately about the office of head of state.

The traditional processes by which a republican model is likely to be arrived at, be it by parliamentary committee, another constitutional convention or in the confines of the cabinet room, are all flawed.

They are all processes in which, in the words of English writer George Monbiot, "the deliberations are back to front".

In each case, the public is being presented with a process and a model or models by the machinery of representative democracy - machinery that is little trusted by the community it is supposed to serve.

This is the beauty of what is called deliberative democracy; a process where communities come together to inform themselves, debate and vote on an issue.

It ensures that it is not only the representatives of our democracy who decide the process and substantive questions pertaining to an Australian republic. It empowers the essence of the Australian democracy, the people themselves. It is bottom up, not top down: An essential element of the future republican debate.

Advertisement

The rise of deliberative democracy in North America has been phenomenal. According to one analysis, about 50 million Americans and Canadians say they are involved in some form of deliberative democracy project each year.

We should not be surprised, given the level of mistrust and cynicism about the partisanship and dissembling that is a hallmark of modern political practice, that deliberative democracy is proving so successful.

Perhaps the most relevant example for the purposes of a deliberative democracy approach to the Australian republic is that of the Canadian province of British Columbia which, in 2003, used deliberative democracy to devise a new electoral system.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Article edited by Mark Bahnisch.
If you'd like to be a volunteer editor too, click here.

First published in The Courier-Mail on August 31, 2006. Greg Barns is the author, with Anna Krawec-Wheaton, of An Australian Republic, published recently by Scribe.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

10 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Greg Barns

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Greg Barns
Article Tools
Comment 10 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Deals from Sponsor
Flipit.com Australia
15% off with this coupon code on HP Notebooks and PCs $2000 and above
Sign up now and use this promo code to receive your second year free at Smile.com.au
Woolworths coupon code: Get $10 off when you spend $100 or more
Travel Factory promo code: Get 10% off storewide
ValueBasket discount code: Get $8 off any order of $330 or more
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy