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democratic engagement

The politics of Twittering - in India

The politics of Twittering - in India

There are a lot of fairly shallow ‘gee whiz’ type stories around about the growing use of Twitter and other social media by politicians. But while a lot of it is fairly faddish – not dissimilar to the rash of ‘wow, a politician is using a blog!‘ stories of a couple of years ago which […]

Death of Democrat co-founder Jack Evans

Death of Democrat co-founder Jack Evans

News has come through that Jack Evans, a pivotal person in the founding and development of the Australian Democrats, has died at the age of 80. It is always dangerous to single individuals out, but Jack Evans and Sid Spindler, alongside Don Chipp, were amongst the most crucial people in getting the Democrats established and functional.  Sadly all three […]

Obama continues to embrace social media to connect to people

Obama continues to embrace social media to connect to people

Some of the commentary about the impacts of social media, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc can tend to be a breathless and overblown. However, it is true that it is changing the nature and scope for broader public participation in public and political debates.  But a lot depends on how much existing power structures […]

The Revolution will be Twittered?

The Revolution will be Twittered?

It’s hard to know for sure just quite what roles it playing, how accurate it is or what impact it will have, but the literally thousands of Twitter posts pouring forth in the aftermath of the Iran election is quite extraordinary to watch. When I first signed on to Twitter over a year ago, I […]

Online consulting on Human Rights

Online consulting on Human Rights

The National Human Rights Consultations, launched by the federal government late last year and chaired by Father Frank Brennan, is finally coming to the end of its public consultation phase, with general public submissions closing on 15 June. There will obviously be a lot of interest in the contents of the report flowing out of […]

Putting families first by keeping political donations secret?!

Putting families first by keeping political donations secret?!

It’s probably redundant to express bafflement at Steve Fielding’s actions in the Senate, so instead I’ll state that I’m flabbergasted at the Family First Senator’s decision this week to block an attempt to restore some transparency to political donations in Australia.  It’s hard to see how Australian families benefit from enabling the wealthy to keep […]

Politicians' and citizens' Parliaments sit in Canberra

Politicians' and citizens' Parliaments sit in Canberra

Federal Parliament resumes this week, starting on Tuesday.  The Senate sits for three days before going next week into Additional Estimates Committee hearings. Once again, the Senate sitting days are fairly light on this year – just  fifty-two days.  This is supplemented by sixteen days of Estimates Committee hearings and plenty of other Committee inquiries, […]

The Italian job

The Italian job

A couple of years ago I wrote about the Italian experiment in allowing expats to vote as part of a specific off-shore constituency.  It was perhaps unfortunate (although not surprising given Italy’s post-war electoral history) that the first time this experiment was tried, the expat representatives held the balance of power in the country’s Senate and […]

voting against democracy

voting against democracy

There has been a lot of publicity and justifiable disappointment about the decision by the voters of California to narrowly support – 52 per cent to 48 per cent – a proposal to change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in that state. But the result which really astonished […]

Does Jon Stanhope really want to stay Chief Minister in the ACT?

Does Jon Stanhope really want to stay Chief Minister in the ACT?

Post-election political posturing in its own way can be as important as pre-election political posturing, but given that the voters have just spoken, maintaining some connection with reality is probably a bit more important. Which made me somewhat surprised to see these comments from ACT Labor Leader Jon Stanhope: ”We have won this election. The […]