McLeod, Triffitt discuss in The Conversation democratic governance’s quiet crisis | 22 April 2015

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Travers McLeod and Mark Triffitt recently wrote in The Conversation about how the evolution of climate change as an issue has exposed the least obvious crisis of the 21st century: our system of democratic governance.

‘It is on the tip of our tongue every time we speak of the difficulties in resolving climate change – our frustration with the lack of future-focused, coherent action. But we rarely articulate it,’ they write.

Triffitt and McLeod note that there has been a failure to deliver: competent, future-focused policy; reconcile expert knowledge and community opinion; gain and sustain long-term consensus; or achieve effective action by devolving power to local communities or projecting solutions across borders through transnational collaboration.

By way of solutions, the authors offer some novel ideas:

  • More deliberative systems that directly engage citizens and deepen debate.
  • Expert and citizen panels that are genuinely intergenerational and cross-sectoral, favouring younger generations.
  • Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments.
  • Enabling the appointment of some ministers from outside the parliament.
  • Synchronising state and federal electoral terms (to be a minimum of four years), with state and federal elections to take place at two-year intervals: meshing short, medium and long-term planning, complete with clear milestones.

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