Nice try. Good attempt at sleight of hand. But Democracy and Government are 2 different things. Very different things.
Writing in the Conversation, Dr Mark Triffitt from the University of Melbourne writes:
Dr Triffitt (for a doctor he is) then fails to actually distinguish between democracy and government and politics and policy. Dr Triffitt suggests that urgent changes are necessary to Australia’s political system(s) because, in part, public trust in government already in serious decline. Dr Triffitt then suggests that there are dual crises in play:
The first is a “crisis of representation”. This results from a fragmented, highly diverse electorate that increasingly fails to connect with major parties. The major parties are left with shrinking, less diverse memberships.
The second is a “crisis of functionality”. Our democratic system is increasingly unable to deliver good public policy in a consistent or coherent way, and to convince the public to support it.
And so Dr Triffitt recommends:
Major reforms are also needed to make federal parliament more effective and less dysfunctional. These might include eliminating Question Time and mandating a strict code of ethics for MPs aimed at addressing toxic behaviours like the bullying crisis rocking the Coalition government.
Reforms like these would raise the level of decorum in parliament and set a new standard for parliamentary behaviour. This would increase public confidence that politicians both reflect and are accountable to modern values.
Lastly, a “Citizens’ Assembly” could be formed of randomly selected citizens to act as a non-partisan check and balance on parliament.
Ahh. The Citizens’ Assembly. Was not that Julia Gillard’s solution to climate change policy before implementing a carbon tax that was not a carbon tax that did not happen under a government she led?
The fundamental problem with Dr Triffitt’s analysis is that it fails to acknowledge Dr Triffitt’s underlying bias; a bias that is not surprising coming from someone who:
lectures in public policy and politics at the University of Melbourne
a Fellow with the Centre of Policy Development, a progressive, Melbourne-based public policy think-tank.
The bias is the belief that Government is the first and best solution to all of society’s problems, when in fact there ample evidence that Government is usually the worst solution.
Dr Triffitt concludes that:
Like every credible plan to reform a major institution showing multiple dysfunctions, we need more than one reform idea. We also need to test these ideas against the root causes of the institution’s malaise. And we need to organise them into a strategic and practical sequence.
The alternative is to believe Australian democracy will magically right itself. Which is no alternative at all.
There is no problem with Australian democracy. The problem is with Australian government. And the best solution for dealing with a dysfunctional, ineffective and overbearing government is reduce it; to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.