It has become increasingly apparent that this government has forgotten the meaning of democracy. Perhaps they need a reminder. And since One Nation will often hold the balance of power in the Senate, they too should have a lesson.
Attention Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Peter Dutton and the rest of the motley crew who seek to impose their will regardless of advice and with no accountability….
The following is from the Museum of Australian Democracy:
Key Democratic Principles
The word ‘democracy’ has its origins in the Greek language. It combines two shorter words: ‘demos’ meaning whole citizen living within a particular city-state and ‘kratos’ meaning power or rule.
It is generally agreed that liberal democracies are based on four main principles:
- A belief in the individual: since the individual is believed to be both moral and rational;
- A belief in reason and progress: based on the belief that growth and development is the natural condition of mankind and politics the art of compromise;
- A belief in a society that is consensual: based on a desire for order and co-operation not disorder and conflict;
- A belief in shared power: based on a suspicion of concentrated power (whether by individuals, groups or governments).
See Playing Fair, a website by the Parliamentary Education Office.
The Democratic Framework
A liberal democracy (that is, one that champions the development and well-being of the individual) is organised in such a way as to define and limit power so as to promote legitimate government within a framework of justice and freedom. There are four critical elements to the framework:
- freedom; and
A legitimate government is one that has the appropriate mandate/authority to rule. This usually means a high degree of popular support as demonstrated by a free electorate and frequent elections.
- For example, the government is chosen by a popular vote in which a majority of officials in a majority of electoral regions receive the majority vote; and
- For example, rules are framed to maximize the well-being of all or most citizens.
Justice is achieved when citizens live in an environment in which all citizens are treated equally and accorded dignity and respect. This may occur in a representative democracy that is tempered by constitutionalism, free elections and restraints on power.
- For example, the demands made by vested interest groups seeking special privileges are questioned; and
- for example, society is encouraging of talent and rewards citizens on merit, rather than on rank, privilege or status.
If freedom is to exist, there must be:
- self-determination such that citizens may make decisions, learn from them and accept responsibility for them;
- the capacity to choose between alternatives;
- the autonomy to do what the law does not forbid; and where prohibitions do exist, they should be for the common good; and
- respect for political and civil liberties. For example, government intervention in political, economic and moral matters affecting the citizenry is limited or regulated; and the scope for religious, political and intellectual freedom of citizens is not limited.
In a liberal democracy efforts are made to define and limit power, often by means of a written constitution. Checks and balances, such as the separation of the Parliament, senior government and judicial power, are instituted. In addition, there are conventions of behaviour and a legal system that complements the political system.
- For example, civil liberties are defended and increased against the encroachment of governments, institutions and powerful forces in society.
The many transgressions of these principles by our current government should be a clarion call to us all. We must resist this concentration of power in the hands of a government who actively conspires to keep the truth from us and who silences those who would speak it.
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