On the eve of the 2022 Budget, and in the wake of successive pork-barrelling scandals, the Greens have announced that they will establish a $2 million Public Interest Democracy Fund to explore new initiatives that would allow more public participation in decision-making and the allocation of public money.
The fund, which will be administered by the Department of Parliamentary Services, will support trials of innovative programs to increase democratic participation, including:
- participatory budgeting to give the community more say in the allocation of public money
- citizens’ juries to complement Parliamentary processes on issues of public significance
- reforming Question Time to allow questions from the public and get actual answers from Ministers
- allowing petitions with more than 5,000 signatures to trigger parliamentary debate on issues.
The initiative, which forms part of the broader Greens policy for an end-to-end plan to revitalise our democracy and clean up politics, will be launched today at a public demonstration of participatory budgeting in Canberra, hosted by Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo (full details below).
Lines attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters:
"Trust in our political leaders and our institutions has plummeted to an all-time low after years of pork-barrelling scandals and blatant misuse of public funds.
"From Sports Rorts, Pork and Ride and the Building Better Regions debacle, to wanton JobKeeper wastefulness and billions of dollars handed out to fossil fuel companies to keep destroying Country and polluting the atmosphere, Australians increasingly distrust governments to act in the public interest.
"The Greens believe that cleaning up politics needs to start from the ground up, which is why we’ll invest in exploring ways for the community to participate more directly in the decisions that affect us all.
"Democracy should be more than simply casting a vote and then spending the next three years being ignored or taken for granted by your so-called representatives. Genuine participation in the decisions that affect our lives and our future will make for better policy, better outcomes and stronger, more cohesive communities."
Lines attributable to Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo:
"In the last 15 years, confidence in our democratic systems has absolutely crashed, and who can blame anyone for cynicism when incompetence, corruption, and abuse of power are so out of control.
"The best way to rebuild confidence in democracy is to actually get people involved in decision-making. It's so crucial that we don't just get money out of politics, but that we also throw the doors wide open to public participation.
"Replacing pork-barrelled grants schemes with participatory budgeting is such an obvious step, and I'm excited to show people how that would work.
"People working together to find good solutions will come to better decisions than politicians making self-interested calculations."