RJ Poole, Lismore
Australia has a crisis of democracy. Many issues being decided by state and federal governments, do not have the support of the wider community. Coal-seam gas (CSG) mining and the ongoing war in Afghanistan are just two examples of large-scale, long-term events that are opposed by a significant majority of Australians – and have been opposed from their very beginning.
Yet despite increased public discontent, our political leaders continue to ignore the will of the people. Even at a local level, the member for Lismore, Thomas George, has failed to support our community’s fight against CSG mining and remains loyal to his party, rather than the people with whom he lives!
Australia’s democratic system desperately needs to be reinvigorated. We need to get in touch with the values and ideals that inspired the rise of democracy in the first instance. These values emphasise the rights and freedoms of the individual. They emphasise the need for governments to be responsive to the will of the people.
No democratic government is elected with a mandate to ‘rule’. The very notion of a ruling government runs counter to the democratic process. The reason we have a government is to administer our will and provide a range of services. This whole process is paid for by us (the public) and is designed to benefit us.
Such a process, however, comes with a responsibility: which is that the quality of democracy we enjoy is only as good as we make it. If we fail not only to speak up, but also to act, then our elected representatives will take charge and represent their own interests.
This is what is happening as you read this letter!