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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Democracy more than a ballot in the box

International Day of Democracy, 15 September, passed peacefully and largely unnoticed here except if you were at the Museum of Australian Democracy in old Parliament House in Canberra. 

The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.

We of course were 'in between' governments on the day, readying for a peaceful transfer of power as a result of our own exercise of democratic rights on 7 September.

But hopefuly someone in Canberra noted the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the need to strengthen people’s voices in how they are governed:
“Despite advances in civic engagement, apathy has become democracy’s most insidious enemy in a growing number of societies... Inclusive participation is the antidote,” he said, underscoring that such inclusivity is not only an end in itself; it prepares communities, societies and entire countries to address opposing points of view, forge compromises and solutions, and engage in constructive criticism and deliberations. “Inclusive participation helps communities develop functioning forms of democracy for Government, corporations and civil society,” Mr. Ban said.
The Abbott Government could start well by reiterating the commitment to join the Open Government Partnership:
a global effort to make governments better. We all want more transparent, effective and accountable governments -- with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. But this work is never easy. It takes political leadership. It takes technical knowledge. It takes sustained effort and investment. It takes collaboration between governments and civil society.
Membership, and a national action plan with concrete commitments to improve on a number of fronts should be right up the alley of a government determined to restore trust!

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