Reflections of CAPaDs focus on candidates

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Peter Tait

(this 13 January version is an update of the original post of January 6th 2021)

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself explaining what CAPaD is trying to do. People are interested in a new way of thinking about doing politics. These conversations have led me to these thoughts.

The core unifying factor in taking action to address the existential threats facing humanity is good governance.

SDG 16 identifies good governance as an essential factor for sustainable development and for achieving all the other goals. Goal 16 is to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all; reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms; develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels; and ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.

The Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) asserts that the way to good governance is strong democracy. By democracy we mean a system of government where those affected by the outcome of decisions participate in making those decisions.

Good governance ensures better social and environmental outcomes and therefore provides a strategic, pragmatic, achievable central focus to attaining these outcomes.

In our current representative democracy, which needs to be our starting point for transforming governance, a pragmatic and practical way forward is to ensure our elected representatives:

  • Have the skills necessary to undertake their roles
  • Work to continually safeguard and strengthen good governance
  • Build ongoing active relationships with their constituents so ‘the people’ can participate in policy formulation, bring their lived skills and experience into government decision making, help monitor the outcomes and feed back those learnings into future policy.

This requires:

  • An educative process for both civil society and the community at large, for MPs themselves, for political parties and for the civil servants
  • A mechanism for interested people within electorates to become more involved as co-governors with their MPs; the Voices4 movement provides one model
  • A revision of the way that candidates are selected.

Secondly, in parallel CAPaD promotes improving citizen participation in governance through deliberative means (minipublics) as a further means to incorporate citizen participation into the representative political structure. CAPaD works with civil society and governments to encourage their use.

In parallel other recognised reforms such as limits to political donations, open diaries, a Federal Integrity Commission, truth in political advertising and so forth need pursuing.

How this might play out during 2021 will be explored in future general meetings.

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