democracy LO29344

From: Alan Cotterell (
Date: 10/17/02

Replying to LO29321 --

Dear All,

I suggest a distinction can be made between two types of democracy -
representative democracy (parliament, local councils and unionism) and
participative democracy. Personally I have never used the representative
system to put my viewpoint to the government (or my employer) or society
generally. I feel that whatever I have to say through this system will be
modified out of recognition to conform with a pollies (or union reps)
mindset, often to serve their personal needs. In short it is very
difficult to get real change through the representative system, if your
ideas comprise more than a few short sentences.

I have used a form of participation offered by standardisation bodies and
professional institutes. Simply by writing to the standards working
groups you can comment on the national standards which make up the basis
for our laws. Your input can be influential when offered in this way.
In the past the pollies idea has been that participative democracy should
take the form of community initiated referenda, I suggest that this is a
contradiction to the concept of participation, and is certainly not a cost
effective or efficient way of getting input to decision making processes.
New methods of promoting participation, such as extension of the
activities of the ombudsman would be more effective. Our democratic system
in Australia is designed to maintain a system in which the power base is
centred in only one part of a class structure. The paradigm which is
maintained is authoritarian and conservative. It is not generally risk
conscious or proactive, and doesn't promote participation by the ordinary
citizen. Australia is often touted as a classless society. I suggest this
is not the case, and privilege is being maintained at a significant cost
to the community in lost opportunity and mismanagement.

There needs to be a shift in paradigm which will promote community and
employee ownership of 'the means of production' and the decision making
processes, and which will effectively empower every individual to have a
reasonable level of influence. I think the pollies will resist further,
so whose interests do they really represent?

Best Regards,
Alan Cotterell


"Alan Cotterell" <>

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