Democracy vs Government

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:

Reforming our political system is not a quick fix. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to do it.

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

and is

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.

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23 Responses to Democracy vs Government

  1. JohnA

    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.

    Politicians being “accountable to modern values” is how we arrived at the present parlous condition.

    If our politicians were held accountable to the ancient values previously called the Seven Virtues and were capable of avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins, then the doctor’s proposals would be entirely irrelevant and could be consigned to the dustbin of history – where they belong.

  2. JC

    Bolton makes perfect sense.

    US threatens to arrest ICC judges who probe war crimes

    The United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes.

    White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”

    “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.

    He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.

  3. James Hargrave

    A denizen of Krapville TAFE ought to be able too differentiate things, e.g. a modern university from a seat of learning. But when progressive is used without any sense of irony, what hope.

  4. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    one word: TRUMP

  5. .

    Lastly, a “Citizens’ Assembly” could be formed of randomly selected citizens to act as a non-partisan check and balance on parliament.

    We could just have sortition for the lower house, the appointment of the upper house on longer terms by the lower house, recall elections and CIR but only as to strike down laws, and sunset clauses on ALL non-constitutional legislation and instruments.

  6. Big Jim

    O/T: Papadopoulos (remember him, the guy who drew the placebo in the Clearasil trials) is unloading on Twitter about Alexander Downer, 007. Maybe our comatose MSN will pick up on some of the questions. I’m not hopeful after the SMH’s effort – so far behind the story, it still thinks Mifsud is a Russian agent.
    What the Hell was AD doing on our dime?

  7. The BigBlueCat

    Bullying crisis? I’ve heard allegations, but nothing substantive that says any actual bullying has taken place. If it has, then surely workplace laws come into effect and the claims need to be investigated before anyone can be named, shamed and disciplined.

    Our Westminster system of government requires the often robust contest of ideas and the scrutiny of the government by both the opposition and the electorate. That both the major parties have seen fit to remove sitting PM’s and replace them with someone else is part of the representative parliamentary process – the party room decides who their parliamentary leader will be, while the electorate decides which party will govern. But even PM’s have died in office, some of them (metaphorically) multiple times. If the leader is a lame duck, they need to be replaced or the electorate will have their say (as they always do).

    Removing a sitting PM shouldn’t necessarily be considered a bad thing if it is infrequent and led by the parliamentary party rather than external forces such as unions, big business or a foreign power.

    I don’t think it’s our system of government that is the problem here … just the observers.

  8. NuThink

    One simple thing that the politicians could do is to stop saying “My Government”. The woman from NSW whose name I cannot pronounce kept using it a day or two ago. It is not her government just as the Federal government was not Turnbull’s even if he did pay a million or two. They do not own it, they just have a lease on it.
    Surely it is the NSW government or the Australian Federal Government or whatever the real definition. Are they are taking advice from Their ABC?
    Luckily Tinned Soup Consomme …. has gone else he would be after me telling me that I do not respect the Premier of NSW because I cannot pronounce her name (similar problem with Queensland).

  9. Roger

    They do not own it, they just have a lease on it.

    No, not even that. It’s Her Majesty’s government.

  10. 2dogs

    Triffit’s support of sortition (which he calls a “Citizen’s Assembly”) would be a welcome change.

    But I have issue with this:

    This “crisis of functionality” is partly due to the decline of the public service and its ability to deliver independent, quality policy advice to ministers.

    Something producing bad output should be replaced, not enlarged.

  11. Chris M

    Perhaps he is writing about the ABC, Spart.

    The state-run mouthpiece is stuffed, baked and overdue to be carved and served.

  12. Tel

    White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”

    Pot calls kettle black.

    That’s not to say the Bad Boy Bolton is incorrect, but then he wrote the book on lack of accountability.

  13. RobK

    The propensity of the Fed to sign things from the UN is in part what has changed in the last 60 years. This means the machinery has changed and contributed to the enlargement of bureaucracy and over goverance. (Eg. Enviro law). There’s too much Fed action in State affairs. Changing how we interact with the UN is probably the only essential thing.

  14. Bruce of Newcastle

    The first is a “crisis of representation”. This results from a fragmented, highly diverse electorate that increasingly fails to connect with major parties.

    Triffid doesn’t realise that the voters are trying to tell the pollies something.
    They are saying they want immigration slowed, especially of muslims.
    They want green crap booted.
    They want lower cost of living, most noticeably their electricity bills.
    They want nanny, who is persecuting them every time they go out their front doors, to FO.

    The voters will keep on trying out new pollies until they get one who does their will.
    In the US they finally got Trump.
    He fights.
    Rather like Lincoln finally got Grant.
    Here we are still going through them hoping for one who isn’t a lemon.

  15. Pat

    We have vast numbers of young people going to universities where they are taught that they are part of the elite so long as they agree with their professors. The professors have never ventured out of education and suffer no consequences for being wrong- hence they never learn from their mistakes which therefore accumulate.
    Decimate higher education, and lower the school leaving age and the problem will go away.

  16. BoyfromTottenham

    Well said, Bruce of N.

  17. Jonesy

    Simple solution….drain the swamp!
    Too many yes persons behind the elected representatives from local councils to federal parliament. I reckon a 50% cut would be a good start…followed by removing careerists by natural attrition…and the final ammendment, minimum recruitment age set at 45.

    Competition policy (Agenda 21) has destroyed our institutions. Mega local councils, corporatised public utilities and privatised essential supplies. The infiltration of the green movement in to the public service must be strangled.

    ……and this guy wants to introduce another layer of governance?

  18. Vagabond

    Citizen Assemblies would be a rerun of Krudd’s 2020 summit with a dash of the “District Health Councils “ of the unlamented Victorian Kirner regime. They would be infested by the likes of GetUp and various “community” and human rights parasites. The Cat would have to run an expanded version of the regular Q&A thread every day.

  19. Parsimonious

    The day of the Triffids.
    Thanks BON

  20. .

    Competition policy

    (Agenda 21)

    These things are nothing alike.

    minimum recruitment age set at 45.

    Let me guess, you’ve just turned 46? You would have disqualified President Kennedy and Sam Houston from being in Parliament if they were Aussies. They were in the US Congress at 36 and 30 as a Senator and US House Rep.

    There are plenty of boomer idiots in our Parliaments, not to mention the up and coming millennial idiots.

    I’d like to see the end of careerism, maybe term limits are better along with optional preferencing and ending election subsidies and cutting staffing entitlements for MPs.

  21. Justinian the Great

    The good doctor confuses politics and policy. He assumes better policy can be achieved by a better code of ethics and behaviour from politicians while policy experts (like his good self) and the bureaucrats get on with governing boosted by a people’s assembly. Now call me crazy but one would have thought parliament was an assembly of the people. The doctor’s prescription sounds a lot like technocracy / authoritarianism with a veneer of legitimacy by a stacked “people’s assembly”. Maybe we will need an assembly of the assembly to guard against outlier results!! Presumably the good doctor believes “government” isn’t working out as he and his progressive comrades would prefer and he blames “democracy” for getting in the way. The problem is that government is failing because politicians prefer to prance around like peacocks rather than governing. In doing so they have outsourced governing to unaccountable bureaucrats, independent statutory agencies, regulators, the Courts, international institutions and treaties and so on. You can’t sneeze in Australia without prior consent from a health regulator and an environmental impact statement. Look out for the ban on disposable tissues!! Our current crop of politicians will do almost anything to avoid doing something, taking a stand, and being accountable. In part because they have nothing of value to add having come straight out of Left wing universities and into staffer roles before taking over from the boss. This is especially the case for the Liberals. Labor actually like this outcome as they ultimately secure control and can implement their socialist agenda without the inconvenience of elections. The problem is not democracy itself, but the fact we have corrupted it. Our politicians are turning parliament into a safe space for pathetic virtue signallers. More democracy starts by dismantling the safe space of the deep state. People are losing faith in political parties because they are either unwilling or powerless to act. Drain the billabong!! Spartacus is right. It is big government that is destroying the nation.

  22. Alex Davidson

    There is no problem with Australian democracy.

    Sorry but I can’t agree with that at all. There is a very big problem with Australian democracy: based purely on numbers, anything goes. Once one mob or the other can lay claim to having the numbers, there’s no limit to the pillage and loss of personal freedom they feel entitled to carry out in its name. From outrageous legislation outlawing ownership of adequate means of self-defence, to daily violations of ownership rights under central planning, democracy in Australia has failed completely and is now simply socialism.

    What we need are limits upon our democracy, starting with cast-iron protection for property rights. That alone would result in a drastic reduction in the size of government, since there would no longer be any need for the vast army of bureaucrats who do little more than plunder and meddle with our lives and our freedoms.

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