No time to say much right now, but I was intrigued to see the People’s Chamber. Why wouldn’t I be? And disappointed it was scorned so instantly by various operatives around the traps. Of course the atmospherics for its introduction might have been better – this is a rescue operation with the alternative political heroics having fallen over. But I find it hard to see how anything but good can come from such an experiment. The essence of these things is for them to reinvigorate, reinvent and relegitimate democracy. At the moment, there’s an absence of deliberative democracy because anything that can be focus grouped or discussed to a worthwhile conclusion (like an ETS, an RRT or a GST) can go from being conventional wisdom to electoral poison with the expenditure of a few million dollars telling how 1 is dreadfully unfair to 2 and will beggar us all.
As I’ve argued recently and not so recently, the Accord was the success it was because it served as a forum for major issues to be considered by major groups in our society and for broad agreements to be reached in which the parties compromised so that they could agree on and then share the resulting benefits. And I expect that well done, the people’s chamber can do something similar. The 2020 Summit was a similar idea but it was implemented in a daze, without any thought about what the government wanted out of it. The people’s chamber has promise because a government that wants to lead can use it to lead – and it can offload a lot of the burden of what I call political heroics (where the govt leads as it did with resource rent taxation or John Hewson did with the GST and everyone else gets to take potshots at it from the sidelines). And as I’ve mused elsewhere, maybe Gillard is the kind of politician who can pull this off.
But remembering all those people trying to wish their thoughts and values into Rudd’s head, I could be doing the same thing. Only time will tell. Still, even if I’m cynical I still find it hard to believe that the people’s chamber won’t lead to good things. I had no such hopes of the 2020 Summit. Actually that’s wrong. I did have hopes. High hopes and low expectations.
- insert policy
- insert demographic, celebrity or billionaire