Amid growing concern about the state of our democracy, and days after the release of the damning University of Canberra report Trust and Democracy in Australia, the Greens are launching "People In", a series of public meetings to involve Canberrans in political decision-making and build mechanisms for ongoing public participation via a Greens Member for the new seat of Canberra.
Tim Hollo, Greens candidate for the new seat, has researched and published extensively on rebuilding trust and reinvigorating politics through Participatory Democracy, as Executive Director of the Green Institute. As a candidate, he is now inviting Canberrans to come together to co-design a system to have their voice heard and taken seriously in the Federal Parliament.
"On climate change, refugees, planning and housing and so much more, it's tragically obvious that our politics is failing us. Trust and confidence in our democracy is at an all time low - and who could honestly say they're surprised?
"But it doesn't have to be this way. We can put in place good policies like donations reform and a federal ICAC to get the big corporations out of politics. And we can open the doors and bring the people in.
"Democracy should be far more than being asked to cast your vote once every few years. It should involve genuine participation in the decisions that affect our lives and our future.
"There's an immense amount of evidence that the best quality decisions with the broadest public support are those made with most active participation of citizens. Participation makes for better policy, better politics, and better, more cohesive and resilient communities.
"I want to be your local MP not just to represent you, but to bring your voices and ideas into the parliament, and to give you a real say in building our common future."
This first in a series of public meetings will be moderated by Toni Hassan, and include contributions from the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy. After a short presentation, people will be invited to discuss ideas in smaller groups, and feed them back to the organisers to help design further conversations next year.
"It's incredibly stark that Canberra, with our connected, caring community, too often gets boiled down to nothing more than a short-hand for governments which don't speak for us. But at this election, with a brand new seat, we can make our city a beacon for a better politics instead of a symbol for the worst. This project, "People In", is how we make that happen.
"I'm absolutely delighted that the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy have agreed to come and talk about what participation and representation could look like in a healthy democracy, based on their research and their conversations with you, the people of Canberra.
"This promises to be an exciting, challenging and rewarding process, and I look forward to seeing lots of people there on the night to help us build a future for all of us."
People In will be at Gorman House main hall, Ainslie Ave, 6.30-8pm, Wednesday Dec 12. Nibbles, pens and paper, and big ideas, will be provided.