Discussion papers

All Democratic Audit of Australia publications are now archived at Australian Policy Online. Just follow this link to get access to 140 discussion papers and reports.

Equality and Australian Democracy (published 11/2011)
Author(s): Marian Sawer, Peter Brent
Category: – Audit paper; Democracy, Equality
This essay explores how the struggle between the political rights of property and the political rights of the people shaped the design of Australian political institutions and how this legacy continues to affect Australian democracy.
Candidate Gender in the 2010 Australian Federal Election (published: 8/2010)
Author(s): Tony Smith
Category: – Audit paper; Elections; Parties
Tony Smith compares the recently announced list of candidates for the 2010 federal election with the candidates standing in 2007.  He finds that despite a modest rise in the number of women candidates, the representation of women in federal parliament could go backwards at this election.
Public Confidence in Australian Democracy (published: 12/2008)
posted: 17/12/2008
Author(s): Scott Brenton (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Public opinion
Scott Brenton uses data from the 2007 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes and the 2007 Australian Election Study to examine public perceptions of democracy. He finds that respondents were satisfied and proud of a general conception of Australian democracy but that indications of citizen engagement are not strong and the performance of government, politicians and other public officials.
New Fangs for the Platy-tiger? Labor and the Senate (published: 12/2008)
posted: 17/12/2008
Author(s): Tony Smith (Swinburne University of Technology)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parliament
Tony Smith provides a concise overview of the main issues arising from the interaction of the government and the Senate over the past year in this new Audit discussion paper, New Fangs for the Platy-tiger? The Senate and the Rudd Government in 2008.
Different donors (published: 6/2008)
posted: 23/06/2008
Author(s): Joo-Cheong Tham (University of Melbourne)
Category: – Audit paper; Incumbency benefits; Political Finance/Govt Advertising
Joo-Cheong Tham from the University of Melbourne argues the case for treating trade union financial contributions to political parties differently from those from corporations. The paper is a response to growing support for restricting or banning political donations from all organisations.
Hereditary Relics Holding Back the AEC (published: 5/2008)
posted: 15/05/2008
Author(s): Peter Brent (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Public service/statutory bodies
Peter Brent examines the regional structure of the Australian Electoral Commission and argues that the existence of permanent District Returning Offices is wasteful and is holding back the adoption of world’s best practice enrolment procedures.
The Lobbying Code of Conduct: An Appraisal (published: 4/2008)
posted: 15/04/2008
Author(s): John Warhurst (Australian National University)
Category: Accountability; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
The Cabinet Secretary, Senator John Faulkner, released an exposure draft of the proposed Lobbying Code of Conduct on 2 April 2008. In this Audit Discussion Paper John Warhurst assesses the proposal. While welcoming the code, he writes that in important respects “it is timid and narrow”.
Time to introduce automatic enrolment in Australia (published 2/2008)
posted: 18/02/2008
Author(s): Peter Brent (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Accountability
With the Rudd government looking at making changes to the Electoral Act, the Audit’s Peter Brent places automatic enrolment as a high priority. In this paper, he highlights the mass of database information which the Australian Electoral Commission has access to, but cannot efficiently use for updating the electoral roll. Peter calls for the AEC to be given the power to update the roll automatically – doing away with the need for citizens to fill out lengthy enrolment forms.
Not so special anymore: The demise of SBS television – An Audit discussion paper (published 2/2008)
posted: 1/02/2008
Author(s): Emma Dawson (Monash University)
Category: – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies; Media
Monash University’s Emma Dawson assesses the state of SBS as a public broadcaster reflecting the concerns of ethnic Australia. Dawson discusses how SBS management has responded to being caught up in the culture wars, attempting to adequately respond to the interests of its viewers, and its political masters.
Removing partisan bias from Australian electoral legislation – An Audit discussion paper (Published 1/2008)
posted: 31/01/2008
Author(s): Brendan McCaffrie (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Accountability
The ANU’s Brendan McCaffrie discusses a way of removing partisan bias from the formulation of Australia’s electoral laws. His proposal for an Independent Electoral Law Committee seeks to remove the partisan influence of the major parties from electoral law-making. Although the major parties may be loath to give up this control, there are international precedents, as McCaffrie discusses.
Rolling out the regional pork barrel: A threat to democracy? (published 12/2007)
posted: 20/12/2007
Author(s): Geoff Cockfield (University of Southern Queensland), Scott Prasser (University of the Sunshine Coast)
Category: – Audit paper; Incumbency benefits; Accountability
Scott Prasser from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Geoff Cockfield of the University of Southern Queensland analyse the Howard government’s Regional Partnerships Program, the subject of a recent Australian National Audit Office report. They discuss the democratic implications and question the political value of pork-barrelling.
The importance of boundaries (published: 11/2007)
posted: 2/11/2007
Author(s): Colin Hughes (University of Queensland)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Parliament
Colin Hughes, former Federal Electoral Commissioner and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Queensland, considers the issue of electorate boundary changes. The paper provides a comprehensive review of the 2006 redistributions in NSW and QL and summarises the history of redistributions in the two states. Hughes analyses the party political competition involved, even when the redistributions are carried out by independent electoral commissions.
Government advertising on industrial relations (published: 11/2007)
posted: 2/11/2007
Author(s): Fred Argy (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Incumbency benefits; Political Finance/Govt Advertising
Fred Argy, visiting fellow at ANU’s Crawford School, reviews the federal government’s publicly funded, multi-million dollar campaign to persuade the Australian electorate of the merits of the controversial WorkChoices policy.
Constitutionalising the franchise and the status quo: The High Court on prisoner voting rights (published: 10/2007)
posted: 19/10/2007
Author(s): Graeme Orr (University of Queensland)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Rights
In the wake of the High Court’s decision on prisoner enfranchisement, Graeme Orr (University of Queensland) describes the issue of prisoner disenfranchisement as a continuing ‘political football’ in this new paper for the Audit.
Whatever happened to frank and fearless? The systems of New Public Management and the ethos and behaviour of the Australian Public Service (published: 10/2007)
posted: 19/10/2007
Author(s): Kathy MacDermott (Former Group Manager, Evaluation Group, Australian Public Service Commission)
Category: – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies; Accountability
Kathy MacDermott, former head of evaluation for the Australian Public Service Commission, considers the tension between the public service’s role in providing ‘frank and fearless’ advice to government and its role in development and implementation of government policy.
Queensland burning: local government amalgamation & democratic practice in Queensland (published: 9/2007)
posted: 20/09/2007
Author(s): Scott Prasser (University of the Sunshine Coast)
Category: – Audit paper; Rights; Accountability
Scott Prasser (University of the Sunshine Coast) reviews the recent furore over forced amalgamation of local government in Queensland. Whilst there is agreement that some rationalisation of local government is needed, the process by which it has been conducted has been characterised by democratic deficit.
Not good news: Australia’s shrinking media freedoms (published: 9/2007)
posted: 20/09/2007
Author(s): Norman Abjorensen (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Media
The Audit’s Norman Abjorensen assesses the state of press freedom in Australia The paper is based on a chapter for the Audit’s forthcoming book, Australia: The State of Democracy which will be out next year.
The need for transparency in lobbying (published: 9/2007)
posted: 20/09/2007
Author(s): Julian Fitzgerald (Parliamentary Press Gallery journalist, Clareville Press)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Julian Fitzgerald considers the regulation of political lobbyists in this new Audit paper. He argues that a registration scheme would alleviate some of the problems that this burgeoning industry has brought.
Peter Andren: An independent way in Australian politics (published: 8/2007)
posted: 29/08/2007
Author(s): Tim Payne (Former Chief of Staff to Peter Andren MP)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Parties/Independents
Following Independent MP Peter Andren’s announcement that cancer has forced him to withdraw from active politics, his former Chief of Staff Tim Payne reviews his parliamentary career.
Parliamentary administration compared (published: 7/2007)
posted: 22/07/2007
Author(s): June Verrier (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parliament
June Verrier, currently a visiting fellow at the Audit has an interesting paper on parliamentary administration in the Australasian Parliamentary Review. Comparing experience in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, she argues that, contrary to much opinion, improved corporate governance will not, of itself, increase parliament’s independence or effectiveness. An underpinning commitment is necessary to the kind of administrative and budgetary arrangements needed for independence, the best-practice model being a cross-party parliamentary commission. The Australasian Parliamentary Review is not yet available online, but the article is reproduced with permission.
The Governance of Britain (published: 7/2007)
posted: 22/07/2007
Author(s): Philip Larkin (Australian National University)
Category: Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
As one of his first moves, the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has released a Green Paper, The Governance of Britain, to launch discussion of a wide range of constitutional reform. The Green Paper is available here.
Phil Larkin provides an overview of the Green paper.
The role of ministerial advisors (published: 7/2007)
posted: 22/07/2007
Author(s): Norman Abjorensen (Australian National University)
Category: Accountability; – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies
As one of his first moves, the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has released a Green Paper, The Governance of Britain, to launch discussion of a wide range of constitutional reform. The Green Paper is available here.
Norman Abjorensen discusses the proposals relating to ministerial advisors.
How well does Australian democracy serve sexual and gender minorities? (published: 7/2007)
posted: 21/07/2007
Author(s): Sarah Maddison (University of New South Wales), Emma Partridge (University of Technology, Sydney)
Category: – Audit paper; Focussed Audits; Rights
Sarah Maddison and Emma Partridge consider the status of sexual and gender minorities in Australia. They find that, whilst there has been considerable progress in the human rights of sexual and gender minorities in recent decades, it highlights the extent to which significant inequalities persist, particularly in respect of relationship recognition.
Devolution and the May 2007 local election results in the UK (published: 6/2007)
posted: 20/06/2007
Author(s): James Jupp (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral
Elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and for local government in most of England and in Scotland, were held on 3 May 2007. In a new Audit paper, James Jupp (ANU) reviews the background and results.
A shrinking Australian electoral roll? (published: 6/2007)
posted: 20/06/2007
Author(s): Peter Brent (Australian National University), Simon Jackman (Stanford University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Public service/statutory bodies
In a new paper for the Audit, Peter Brent and Simon Jackman review the slowing rate of increase of the Australian electoral roll. They find that the Australian Electoral Commission has become more proficient at expunging than at enrolling or re-enrolling voters.
Gender goes missing from NSW politics (published: 5/2007)
posted: 25/05/2007
Author(s): Tony Smith
Category: – Audit paper; Parliament; Parties/Independents
Tony Smith analyses the representation of women in the New South Wales parliament following the election on 24 March 2007. He argues that the Coalition’s failure to make greater inroads into the Labor government’s majority can, in part, be attributed to their failure to promote women candidates in winnable seats and to their weakness on gender issues.
Democratic Values: Political equality? (published: 5/2007)
posted: 25/05/2007
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Incumbency benefits
The pursuit of political equality is one of the four underpinning values of the Democratic Audit of Australia. In this new paper, Audit leader Marian Sawer reviews the state of Australian democracy in relation to this core principle. Restrictions on voting, a lack of transparency surrounding political finance, and the use of public money for party political ends are some of the areas in which Australia currently fails to measure up.
Resources for members of parliament: More Australian anomalies? (published: 3/2007)
posted: 29/03/2007
Author(s): June Verrier (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parliament
The Audit’s June Verrier argues that the decision to grant MPs an extra staff member is a boost to the incumbency benefits enjoyed by sitting members. Parliament will function better if resources are diverted from support for incumbents’ campaigns towards areas of benefit to the parliament as a whole, such as parliamentary research services.
Railroading democracy (published: 3/2007)
posted: 29/03/2007
Author(s): Carmen Lawrence (Federal Member for Fremantle)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Incumbency benefits
In the wake of the Brian Burke scandal in WA, Dr Carmen Lawrence, federal MP for Fremantle and former Premier of WA, argues for more stringent rules governing lobbyists’ activities and politicians’ dealings with them. Drawing on international examples, she argues that, at the very least, the transparency of the lobbying process needs to be far greater, yet the WA proposals fall well short of what is required.
The funding of New Zealand’s elections: Current problems and prospects for change (published: 3/2007)
posted: 2/03/2007
Author(s): Andrew Geddis (University of Otago)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Electoral
Andrew Geddis (University of Otago), author of Electoral Law in New Zealand; practice and Policy (LexisNexis, Jan 2007), reviews New Zealand’s system of election funding in the light of the 2005 election in a new paper for the Audit. A series of serious breaches of the rules by several parties have been documented, but with little prospect of punishment. Enforcement of the rules is weak, with breaches treated as ‘victimless crimes’. However, such continued breaches risk undermining the legitimacy of the whole electoral process
Parliament of Australia: A view to the future (published: 3/2007)
posted: 2/03/2007
Author(s): David Hawker (Speaker of the House of Representatives)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parliament
The Hon David Hawker, Speaker of the House of Representatives, considers the funding arrangements for the Australian parliament. Drawing on examples from overseas, he suggests changes to parliament’s funding and administration to strengthen its independence.
How Well Does Australian Democracy Serve Women? (published: 3/2007)
posted: 2/03/2007
Author(s): Sarah Maddison (University of New South Wales), Emma Partridge (University of Technology Sydney)
Category: Focussed Audits; Accountability; – Audit paper
Sarah Maddison and Emma Partridge address the question, How well does Australian democracy serve Australian women?. They find that Australia, once a leader in efforts to establish equality between men and women, has slid backwards on gender equality over the past decade, with many of the earlier gains now undone.
An upper house for Queensland?
posted: 13/02/2007
Author(s): Nicholas Aroney (University of Queensland), Scott Prasser (University of the Sunshine Coast)
Category: – Audit paper; Constitution/federalism; Parliament
Nicholas Aroney (University of Queensland) and Scott Prasser (University of the Sunshine Coast) look at the debate surrounding the merits of restoring an upper house to the Queensland parliament. A second chamber could contribute to far greater executive scrutiny in Queensland, but much would depend on how a restored upper house was structured.
The Australian Wheat Board and the Oil for Food program (published: 2/2007)
posted: 13/02/2007
Author(s): Linda Botterill (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies; Accountability
Linda Botterill, Australian National University, considers the outcome of the Cole Inquiry into the AWB Ltd’s alleged bribery in Iraq. The problem was not so much one of government culpability, she argues, but shortcomings in the way in which the original privatisation of the wheat exporting institutions were carried out.
Time to tighten the caretaker conventions (published: 2/2007)
posted: 13/02/2007
Author(s): Paul Malone (Canberra Times)
Category: – Audit paper; Incumbency benefits; Public service/statutory bodies
The Canberra Times’ Paul Malone reviews the current caretaker conventions, designed to ensure that a government does not exploit its position once an election is called. The conventions are, however, interpreted very differently between departments, particularly in relation to departmental websites. New guidelines should minimise the scope for conflicting interpretations.
The landslide revisited? The 2006 Victorian Election (published: 12/2006)
posted: 18/12/2006
Author(s): Nick Economou (Monash University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral; Accountability
In a new Audit paper, Nick Economou, Monash University, reviews the Victorian State election of 25 November 2006.
Representation for the Italian diaspora (published: 12/2006)
posted: 18/12/2006
Author(s): Elisa Arcioni (University of Wollongong)
Category: – Audit paper; Parliament; Electoral
In this Audit paper Elisa Arcioni, University of Wollongong, considers the decision to include seats for the Italian diaspora in the Italian parliament.The decision was of even greater significance since it was the results in the Australasian seat that gave the Prodi government its majority in the Senate.
Trust matters: Politics, trust & the republican cause (published: 12/2006)
posted: 18/12/2006
Author(s): Rebecca Huntley ()
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Constitution/federalism
Rebecca Huntley, author of The World According to Y: Inside the New Adult Generation, gave the 2006 National Republican lecture in Canberra on 29 November. Her lecture, ‘Trust matters: Politics, trust and the republican cause’ is issued as a discussion paper for the Democratic Audit of Australia.
Fifty years of campaign finance study in Australia (published: 12/2006)
posted: 18/12/2006
Author(s): Colin Hughes (University of Queensland)
Category: – Audit paper; Political Finance/Govt Advertising
Colin A Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Queensland, looks at the history of the study of campaign finance in Australia and why it has been so under-developed.
Australian industrial laws and freedom of political expression (published: 11/2006)
posted: 17/11/2006
Author(s): Tom Roberts (Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union & Energy Union)
Category: – Audit paper; Rights
In a new paper for the Audit, Tom Roberts of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, discusses the implications of changes to industrial relations law for freedom of expression in the construction sector. Virtually all forms of industrial action are deemed unlawful in the sector and could result in deductions in pay, fines, and damages claims: the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner has been established to monitor and enforce this. This constitutes a direct attack on the right to peaceful political protest.
China and Australia: Mutual assistance on criminal matters (published: 11/2006)
posted: 6/11/2006
Author(s): Vic Adams (Civil Liberties Australia)
Category: – Audit paper; Rights
Australia and China negotiated a treaty on mutual assistance in criminal matters in 2006. Vic Adams considers the treaty and its possible implications in the light of China’s record on the death penalty. The treaty lack safeguards to ensure Australia in not implicated in executions and could be in breach of a number of other treaties to which Australia is a signatory, aimed at ending the death penalty.
New media laws and their impact on the bush (published: 11/2006)
posted: 6/11/2006
Author(s): Peter Andren (Federal Independent Member for Calare)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Media
Peter Andren MP, the Independent member for Calare, considers the impact of the recent changes to media law on media diversity in rural areas. The laws, which will allow a single owner to control both television and newspapers in a particular market, will see, he says, an end to local content in rural areas.
Rethinking Westminster: South Australia’s cabinet experiment (published: 10/2006)
posted: 26/10/2006
Author(s): Norman Abjorensen (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parties/Independents
In a new paper for the Democratic Audit of Australia, Norman Abjorensen, ANU, considers the South Australian experiment of including non-Labor members in the Labor cabinet. The move marks a significant break with the Australia’s Westminster tradition but has evidently paid dividends for the government.
Sunlight as the best disinfectant: Campaign finance in Australia (published: 10/2006)
posted: 26/10/2006
Author(s): Kenneth R. Mayer (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Category: – Audit paper; Political Finance/Govt Advertising
Kenneth Mayer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison compares the systems of campaign finance in Australia and the United States. In spite of the huge sums involved in American campaigns, the disclosure requirements are far stricter than Australia’s, particularly since this year’s changes.
Does the South Australian Legislative Council have a future? (published: 10/2006)
posted: 6/10/2006
Author(s): Jordan Bastoni (University of Adelaide)
Category: – Audit paper; Parliament; Accountability
In a new paper for the Democratic Audit, Jordan Bastoni, University of Adelaide, considers moves to abolish the South Australian upper house. Not only do the changes risk damaging the quality of the political process and the accountability of government, they are also ill-thought out and, it is argued, may be defeated anyway.
Reform of the Senate committee system
posted: 31/08/2006
Author(s): Lisa Young (Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Parliament
In a new Audit discussion paper, Liz Young reviews the government’s changes to the Senate committee system. Whilst the government maintains that the changes will make for a more efficient and effective committee system, opponents fear that the changes will merely strengthen executive dominance over parliament.
Democracy: The wrong message (published: 8/2006)
posted: 30/08/2006
Author(s): Harry Evans (Clerk of the Senate)
Category: – Audit paper; Parties/Independents; Parliament
President Bush’s strategy for promoting democracy is leading to the vigorous imposition of majority rule in some parts of the world. Harry Evans, Clerk of the Senate, argues that developments in the USA and Australia might reinforce the view that democracy is about complete power for elected governments and the squashing of opposition.
The benefits of incumbency (published: 8/2006)
posted: 30/08/2006
Author(s): Norm Kelly (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits
In the wake of the latest increase in the printing allowance for federal MPs, Norm Kelly of the Democratic Audit of Australia criticises both the accumulation of incumbency benefits and rules that allow the use of parliamentary allowances for partisan purposes.
Strike up the ban: Censorship and the war on terror (published: 8/2006)
posted: 30/08/2006
Author(s): Norman Abjorensen (Australian National University)
Category: Accountability; – Audit paper; Rights
Reflecting on the recent decision to ban two Islamist books, Norm Abjorensen is critical of how censorship has been used in the war on terror to pursue political rather than security goals.
Whistleblowing – A review of the law (published: 8/2006)
posted: 30/08/2006
Author(s): A.J. Brown (Griffith Law School)
Category: Accountability; – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies
A J Brown of Griffith Law School reviews Australian laws on public interest disclosures. He finds significant variation in the scope of whistle-blowing law between the different States and Territories, and calls for a ‘second generation’ of law throughout Australia.
Report No. 6: Electronic Democracy? The Impact of New Communications Technology on Australian Democracy (published: 8/2006)
posted: 9/08/2006
Author(s): Peter Chen (Monash University), Karin Geiselhart (University of Canberra), Rachel Gibson (University of Leicester, UK)
Category: – Audit paper; Focussed Audits; NGOs/participation
Peter Chen, Rachel Gibson and Karin Geiselhart look at the way those involved in the political process, including government, political parties, MPs and civil society groups have used new technology, and the implications for democracy. On the one hand there is the potential for increased big brother surveillance of citizens, on the other for broader citizen participation and interactivity in the policy process. Little of the potential for more open government has been realised in Australia.
Can human rights survive the war on terror and the war on crime? (published: 8/2006)
posted: 9/08/2006
Author(s): Carol Harlow (London School of Economics)
Category: – Audit paper; Parliament; Rights
Carol Harlow (LSE) explores how the UK Human Rights Act compromises between upholding European human rights standards and the Westminster principle of parliamentary sovereignty. She finds that the UK government has sometimes been impatient with constraints placed on the war on terror and the war on crime. Strengthening parliamentary scrutiny mechanisms on human rights may be the key to a more co-operative relationship with the judiciary.
Australian human rights record in international perspective (published: 8/2006)
posted: 9/08/2006
Author(s): Hilary Charlesworth (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Rights; NGOs/participation
Hilary Charlesworth (ANU) reviews Australia’s record in implementing its international human rights obligations. Under the Coalition Government, Australia’s relationship with the UN human rights treaty bodies has deteriorated. Australia has adopted a combative stance, emphasising domestic sovereignty and rejecting criticism of human rights performance.
Property votes—OK?
posted: 9/08/2006
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral
Marian Sawer, Director of the Democratic Audit of Australia, discusses property votes. Whilst property votes are normally regarded as a relic dating back to an age before mass democracy, they persist in local government elections in much of Australia. Their continued existence is an affront to most modern conceptions of democracy.
Making independent bodies independent (published: 7/2006)
posted: 26/07/2006
Author(s): Andrew Macintosh (The Australia Institute)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability; Public service/statutory bodies
Andrew Macintosh, deputy director of the Australia Institute, considers the process of appointment to public bodies. Where the independence of these bodies is compromised, so too are their outcomes. And yet the current processes for appointing members is far from transparent or merit-based.
A comment on Landman, deSouza, and Tommasoli (published: 7/2006)
posted: 24/07/2006
Author(s): Philip Larkin (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.
Democratising Democracy Assessments: the State of Democracy Methodology
posted: 21/07/2006
Author(s): Massimo Tommasoli (International IDEA, Sweden)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.
The Democratic Audit of South Asia: An Auditor’s notebook (published: 7/2006)
posted: 21/07/2006
Author(s): Peter deSouza (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Dehli, India)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.
Auditing Democracy in Ireland (published: 6/2006)
posted: 27/06/2006
Author(s): Paula Clancy (TASC – A Think Tank for Social Change, Dublin), Ian G. Hughes (TASC – A Think Tank for Social Change, Dublin)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Paula Clancy and Ian Hughes, of TASC, describe how the Democratic Audit of Ireland and the parallel Democratic Audit of Northern Ireland are being conducted by independent think tanks assisted by a commission chaired by the head of the Irish trade union congress and with party, business and community representatives. Issues include responses to the unprecedented inward migration into Ireland in recent years.

Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.

The Democratic Audit of Australia: Populism vs Citizen Rights (published: 6/2006)
posted: 19/06/2006
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Marian Sawer describes how the Democratic Audit of Australia has separated out the values of political equality, popular control of government, civil liberties/human rights and deliberative democracy in order to highlight the threat posed by populist majoritarianism. Attacks on the ‘non-elected’ intermediary institutions essential to accountability and rights protection in representative democracy undermine popular control of government despite speaking in its name.

Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.

From London to Ulaanbaatar: Making the State of Democracy Framework Travel (published: 6/2006)
posted: 19/06/2006
Author(s): Todd Landman (University of Essex)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Todd Landman of the University of Essex describes how the democratic audit methodology has travelled beyond the eight countries in which the original pilot audits were conducted and has now reached Mongolia. He concludes that despite Mongolia lacking many features that modernisation theory has regarded as essential for democracy, the audit methodology has proved valuable in identifying both strengths and weaknesses.

Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.

The Canadian Democratic Audit (published: 6/2006)
posted: 19/06/2006
Author(s): William Cross (Carleton University, Canada)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
William Cross describes how the Democratic Audit of Canada came into existence in the context of declining public confidence in democratic institutions and with voter turnout at a record low. The Audit used the benchmarks of public participation, inclusiveness and responsiveness to assess democratic performance and has produced nine books, widely used in political science and Canadian studies courses.

Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.

IDEA’s State of Democracy Assessment Methodology (published: 6/2006)
posted: 19/06/2006
Author(s): Ozias Tungwarara (Formerly of IDEA)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
Ozias Tungwarara, formerly of IDEA, describes the challenge of developing an audit methodology that clearly presents its normative and conceptual underpinnings but is still flexible enough to respond to very different environments. The methodology does not aggregate performance in discrete areas and recognises that democratic norms cannot be maximised simultaneously.

Presented at Democratic Audit workshop at International Political Science Association Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, on July 11 2006.

NGOs out in the cold: The Howard Government policy towards NGOs (published: 6/2006)
posted: 15/06/2006
Author(s): Joan Staples (University of New South Wales)
Category: NGOs/participation; – Audit paper
In a new Audit discussion paper, Joan Staples (UNSW) attacks the Federal Government’s policies towards NGOs as undermining the democratic process. She argues that the Government has been inspired by public choice perspectives in its attempts to limit the advocacy role of NGOs.
Quid pro quo needed for Western Australian electoral funding (published: 6/2006)
posted: 15/06/2006
Author(s): Andrew Murray (Democrats Senator for Western Australia)
Category: – Audit paper; Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Accountability
With public funding of political parties proposed in Western Australia, Senator Andrew Murray (Democrats) argues, in this Audit discussion paper, that a quid pro quo is required in the form of higher standards of governance, transparency, and accountability, from the parties that receive it.
The English local government elections of May 2006 (published: 5/2006)
posted: 26/05/2006
Author(s): James Jupp (Centre for Immigration and Cultural Studies, Australian National University)
Category: – Audit paper; Electoral
James Jupp analyses the local government elections held on 4 May in England, which saw the Labour vote at 26 per cent fall below that of both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. There was a doubling of the seats held by the anti-immigration British National Party but also an increase in the number of Muslim Councillors.
The failure of Australian anti-corruption measures (published: 5/2006)
posted: 26/05/2006
Author(s): Jürgen Kurtz (University of Melbourne Law School)
Category: – Audit paper; Accountability
In the wake of the AWB bribery scandal, Jürgen Kurtz reviews Australia’s commitment to combating bribery of foreign officials. Despite ratifying the OECD’s anti-bribery convention in 1999 and passing its own anti-bribery legislation in 1999, Australia has yet to establish proper implementation machinery or to charge any companies or individuals.
Watchdog independence compromised? (published: 5/2006)
posted: 16/05/2006
Author(s): Peter van Onselen (Edith Cowan University)
Category: Accountability; Public service/statutory bodies; – Audit paper
In this new Audit discussion paper, Peter Van Onselen (Edith Cowan University) considers the implications of the WA government’s decision to downgrade several independent watchdog posts. The decision, affecting the Electoral Commissioner, the Commissioner for Public Sector Standards, and the Information Commissioner, has obvious implications for the standing of these posts within the public service and for the ability to recruit candidates of the highest calibre to them in the future. But the role of the WA government in the decision also raises serious questions about the independence of these watchdog bodies, responsible to parliament, from the government departments that they are supposed to scrutinise.
Question time – A failing institution? (published: 4/2006)
posted: 24/04/2006
Author(s): Parameswary Rasiah (University of Western Australia)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
Parameswary Rasiah, University of Western Australia, provides a damning critique of parliamentary question time. Analysing ministers’ responses to questions on the Iraq conflict, she highlights how they evade answering properly unless questions come from their own side, concluding that question time fails as a means to hold government to account.
Political ‘hitmen’ (published: 4/2006)
posted: 24/04/2006
Author(s): James Walter (Monash University)
Category: Accountability; – Audit paper; Public service/statutory bodies
James Walter, Monash University, reviews how the role of ministerial advisors in Australia has evolved to their current status as ‘political hitmen’. The lack of adequate accountability measures for ministerial advisers has contributed to the concentration of power in the government, the narrowing of the scope of policy advice, and the risk of a ‘descent into groupthink and policy fiasco’.
Enforcing party democracy (published: 4/2006)
posted: 24/04/2006
Author(s): Anika Gauja (University of Sydney)
Category: Parties/Independents; Accountability; – Audit paper
Anika Gauja, University of Sydney, considers the need for regulations requiring political parties to adopt internal democracy. Drawing on examples from abroad, she concludes that, in spite of objections, the arguments for requiring greater intra-party democracy are compelling.
Donations to political parties in the United Kingdom (published: 3/2006)
posted: 21/03/2006
Author(s): Keith Ewing (Kings College), Navraj Singh Ghaleigh (Edinburgh Law School)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by Keith Ewing and to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
The regulation of election campaign financing in Canada and New Zealand
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Andrew Geddis (University of Otago)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by Andrew Geddis to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
It’s time? Reforming political financing in Australia
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Peter van Onselen (Edith Cowan University)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by Peter van Onselen to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
The Auditor-General’s role in politics
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Tony Harris (former NSW Auditor-General)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by former NSW Auditor-General Tony Harris to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
Guaranteed Failure: it’s just never the right time for funding reform
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Andrew Murray (Australian Democrats Senator)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by Democrats Senator Andrew Murray to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
Political Finance in Australia: a skewed and secret system?
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Joo-Cheong Tham (University of Melbourne), Sally Young (University of Melbourne)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Australian and international political finance experts, electoral commissioners, former auditors-general and political party representatives gathered at the Australian National University to workshop the Draft Democratic Audit Report prepared by Joo-Cheong Tham and Sally Young on Saturday, February 25 2006. The Tham/Young Report is still a working draft that has benefited from the workshop process and is set to be a landmark publication on political finance in Australia.

(700 kb PDF)

Government advertising – informational or self-promotional? (published: 3/2006)
posted: 20/03/2006
Author(s): Graeme Orr (Griffith University)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Paper delivered by Dr Graeme Orr to the Audit’s Political Finance Workshop held at the ANU on February 25 2006.
Expansive franchise (published: 3/2006)
posted: 8/03/2006
Author(s): Kate Sullivan (UK Electoral Commission)
Category: Electoral; Rights; – Audit paper
Kate Sullivan of the UK Electoral Commission reviews who can vote in the UK and finds that the franchise is much more expansive in Britain than in Australia.
Speaker impartiality: A response from the Clerk of the House (published: 3/2006)
posted: 8/03/2006
Author(s): Ian Harris (Speaker of the House of Representatives)
Category: Parliament; Parliament; – Audit paper
Clerk of the House of Representatives, Ian Harris, responds to a Democratic Audit discussion paper on the impartiality of the Speaker. Harris argues that Speaker David Hawker was procedurally correct in refusing to allow a question to be asked of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, De-Anne Kelly, about a letter she had written as a Parliamentary Secretary after her appointment as Minister. Only Ministers and not Parliamentary Secretaries are obliged to answer questions, even if they appear to be undertaking both roles simultaneously!
Damaging democracy? (published: 3/2006)
posted: 8/03/2006
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; Rights; – Audit paper
Marian Sawer considers Government proposals for early closure of the roll in federal elections. Whilst the Government claims that such a measure is necessary to maintain electoral integrity, she suggests that evidence of fraud is anecdotal at best and is outweighed by effects on the comprehensiveness of the roll.
Government advertising: a parliamentary perspective (published: 3/2006)
posted: 8/03/2006
Author(s): Harry Evans (Clerk of the Senate)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Harry Evans, Clerk of the Senate, reviews the appropriations process as it relates to Government spending on advertising. He suggests that appropriations are made for ends that are specified only in the vaguest terms. Consequently, little limit is applied to the purposes on which the money may be spent.
Paradise postponed (published: 3/2006)
posted: 6/03/2006
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Rights; – Audit paper
The Treasurer, Peter Costello, has called for Australia to create the most ‘female-friendly environment in the world’. Marian Sawer finds, however, that Australia has just slid to its lowest place ever in the league table of women’s representation in national parliaments and a major factor has been the Liberal Party’s failure to preselect women.
Whistleblowers – and governments – need more protection (published: 2/2006)
posted: 9/02/2006
Author(s): David Solomon (University of Queensland)
Category: Accountability; Rights; – Audit paper
In a new paper for the Audit, Dr David Solomon, Adjunct Professor of Politics at the University of Queensland, looks at the law protecting whistleblowing, arguing that more protection is needed.
The 2006 Canadian general election (published: 2/2006)
posted: 9/02/2006
Author(s): Bill Cross (Carleton University)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
Bill Cross, Director of the Democratic Audit of Canada, analyses Canada’s federal election. The Conservative Party victory (on 23 January 2006) followed the ‘sponsorship scandal’ which engulfed the Liberal government. The first-past-the-post system continues to deliver controversial results – the New Democrats won 18 per cent of the vote but only 10 per cent of the seats, the Greens won almost 5 per cent of the vote but no seats, the Liberals won no seats in Alberta despite winning 15 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives were shut out of the major cities despite winning 25 per cent of the vote in Toronto. The new minority Conservative government will be dependent on votes from either the Bloc Québécois or the Liberals to prop it up, so it could be as short-lived as the last Liberal government.
The politics of nuclear waste in the Northern Territory (published: 11/2005)
posted: 7/02/2006
Author(s): David Carment (Charles Darwin University)
Category: Accountability; Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
Professor David Carment reviews the controversy surrounding the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Bill which was introduced into the Federal Parliament on 13 October 2005 and which gives the Commonwealth Government the power to establish a nuclear waste dump on one of three sites in the NT. The Bill gives the Federal Government the power to override the united front provided by the NT’s Labour Government and Liberal opposition to the dump, as well as relevant Aboriginal heritage legislation and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and it also gives the Minister significant discretionary powers allowing to do anything further ‘necessary or incidentally required’ to ensure the establishment of the dump and the transport of waste to it. However, he says opposition to the dump in the NT was overstated by its Government, and argues the focus on ‘Territory Rights’ was ‘quixotic’.
Senate proportionality (published: 12/2005)
posted: 1/12/2005
Author(s): Scott Brenton (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; Parliament; – Audit paper
Scott Brenton (ANU) analyses the relative lack of proportionality in the Senate, and some possible improvements.
Small parliaments (published: 12/2005)
posted: 1/12/2005
Author(s): Richard Herr (University of Tasmania)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
Richard Herr (UTAS) considers some of the problems associated with small parliaments, in a new paper for the Democratic Audit of Australia.
Ethics in public service (published: 12/2005)
posted: 1/12/2005
Author(s): Andrew Podger (Institute of Public Administration Australia)
Category: Public service/statutory bodies; – Audit paper; Accountability
Andrew Podger, National President of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) and former Public Service Commissioner, considers the role of ethics in the Australian Public Service.
The draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 (published: 11/2005)
posted: 1/11/2005
Author(s): James Jupp (Australian National University)
Category: Constitution/federalism; Rights; – Audit paper
At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on 27 September 2005 draft anti-terrorism legislation drawn up by the Howard Government was provided by the Prime Minister on an ‘in confidence’ basis and agreed in principle by State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers.
The Anti-Terrorism measures and democratic debate (published: 11/2005)
posted: 1/11/2005
Author(s): Jenny Hocking (Monash University)
Category: Rights; Accountability; – Audit paper
In a new paper for the Democratic Audit of Australia, Jenny Hocking of Monash University criticises the new anti-terror measures and their potential impact on political scrutiny and debate.
The end of ATSIC (published: 11/2005)
posted: 1/11/2005
Author(s): Larissa Behrendt (University of Technology, Sydney)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper
Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at University of Technology, Sydney, looks at the background to the abolition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). She argues that, in spite of some shortcomings, ATSIC made an important democratic contribution and its demise has left much of the Indigenous community lacking a voice in policy debates.
Anti-Terrorism Bill lacks adequate oversight mechanisms (published: 11/2005)
posted: 1/11/2005
Author(s): Chistopher Michaelsen (Australian National University)
Category: Rights; Accountability; – Audit paper
In a new paper for the Democratic Audit of Australia, Christopher Michaelsen criticizes the lack of accountability and scrutiny in the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005, introduced into Federal Parliament on 2 November 2005. He argues that the 28 new anti-terrorism laws introduced since September 2001 have generally lacked effective judicial and parliamentary review mechanisms and that the new bill has the same shortcomings. The article recommends the establishment of an independent monitoring body.
Human rights and the use of national security information in civil proceedings (published: 10/2005)
posted: 1/10/2005
Author(s): John von Doussa (Human Rightsand Equal Opportunity Commission)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper
The Hon John von Doussa, President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, considers the human rights implications of the recent amendments to the National Security Information Act 2004. He finds that the Act potentially compromises Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
COAG and the limits of parliamentary scrutiny (published: 10/2005)
posted: 1/10/2005
Author(s): Linda Botterill (Australian Defence Force Academy)
Category: Constitution/federalism; Accountability; – Audit paper
Linda Botterill examines the role of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in the wake of the controversy over ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s publication of the Draft Anti-Terrorism Bill. She shows how the issue is a symptom of the way in which decision-making is becoming increasingly centralised through COAG and Premiers and Chief Ministers are committing their governments to action without first exposing policy to parliamentary scrutiny and debate.
Whistleblowing and the media – transparency the biggest casualty (published: 9/2005)
posted: 1/09/2005
Author(s): Helen Ester (Central Queensland University)
Category: Media; Accountability; – Audit paper
Expanding on the issue of protection of sources, Helen Ester looks at a range of factors affecting the Press Gallery’s role in public accountability. These include not only government pursuit of whistle-blowers but also a weak FOI regime making journalists overly dependent on leaks and a hollowing out of the press gallery, meaning many gallery journalists are relatively inexperienced.
Up, up & away in my beautiful balloon … some questions of media policy (published: 9/2005)
posted: 1/09/2005
Author(s): Frank Morgan ()
Category: Media; – Audit paper
Frank Morgan responds to a recent speech by Senator Helen Coonan, Federal Minister for Communications, on proposals to change Australia’s media ownership laws. He discusses how new technology has changed the way we receive and digest news and information.
How effective has the United Nations Human Rights system been in promoting human rights observance by Australian governments? (published: 8/2005)
posted: 1/08/2005
Author(s): Elizabeth Evatt ()
Category: Rights; NGOs/participation; – Audit paper
Elizabeth Evatt provides a synoptic overview of the varying degrees to which Australian governments have signed up to and implemented international human rights treaties. Justice Evatt identifies a range of issues arising from failure to respect the views and findings of independent treaty bodies, turning the Executive and the Parliament into the sole arbiters of compliance with human rights standards.
Theories for understanding government advertising in Australia (published: 8/2005)
posted: 1/08/2005
Author(s): Sally Young (University of Melbourne)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
In this paper, Sally Young assesses propaganda theory in relation to the current debate on the use and possible misuse of government advertising by incumbent Coalition and Labor parties. In particular, Dr Young comments on the relationship between governments, as major advertisers, and the editorial content of media outlets.
Revising constituency boundaries in the United States and Australia: It couldn’t be more different (published: 8/2005)
posted: 1/08/2005
Author(s): Richard Engstrom (University of New Orleans)
Category: Incumbency benefits; Electoral; – Audit paper
Richard Engstrom provides a comparative analysis of the methods used to determine electoral boundaries in the United States and Australia. This paper provides a useful insight into the largely partisan nature of redistribution (redistricting) in the US and highlights the benefits of the more independent nature of Australian electoral commissions.
Police, civilians and democratic accountability (published: 8/2005)
posted: 1/08/2005
Author(s): Colleen Lewis (Monash University)
Category: Public service/statutory bodies; Accountability; – Audit paper
Colleen Lewis investigates the effectiveness of attempts around Australia to increase the public accountability of the police. Dr Lewis highlights the complex relationship between police and government and the reduction of judicial oversight under anti-terrorism laws.
Do Australians have equal protection against hate speech? (published: 8/2005)
posted: 1/08/2005
Author(s): Simon Rice (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights)
Category: Rights; Media; – Audit paper
Simon Rice examines the very different levels of protection against hate speech that exist in different Australian jurisdictions. He highlights Australia’s unfulfilled international obligation to legislate against religious vilification and the interesting stance adopted by the NSW government on the subject.
What is happening to Australian democracy? (published: 7/2005)
posted: 1/07/2005
Author(s): Fred Argy (Australian National University)
Category: Incumbency benefits; Political Finance/Govt Advertising; – Audit paper (pages: 5)  
In this discussion paper, Fred Argy addresse the issue of incumbency advantages in government by examining the use of taxpayers’ money for political advertising campaigns. The paper has a particular focus on the federal government’s current industrial relations campaign, and argues that public money should not be used for ‘proposed and unlegislated’ policy changes.
Beyond Australia’s First Bill of Rights: engendering public debate (published: 7/2005)
posted: 1/07/2005
Author(s): Katharine Gelber (University of New South Wales)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper; Public opinion (pages: 9)  
So far in Australia only the ACT has a Bill of Rights. Katharine Gelber looks at current gaps in rights protection and at how to win support for rights-based legislation. She draws on recent surveys of civic knowledge and social attitudes to argue there is already a pool of public support for the ideals associated with rights protection.
Ending felon disenfranchisement – What voting rights should prisoners have? (published: 7/2005)
posted: 1/07/2005
Author(s): Sandey Fitzgerald (Macquarie University)
Category: Felon disenfranchisement; Rights; – Audit paper
In this paper, Sandey Fitzgerald provides new evidence on when and how prisoners have been able to vote in the various Australian jurisdictions and the difficulty of regaining voting rights after sentences have been served. She also discusses the long-standing ideological divide on the issue.
The Senate changeover – Implications for democracy (published: 5/2005)
posted: 1/07/2005
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
With the changeover of Senators on 1 July 2005, Marian Sawer looks at democratic issues posed by government control of both houses of the Australian Parliament, particularly in relation to legislative review and executive scrutiny.
The ACT Human Rights Act 2004: Impact on case law, legislation and policy (published: 7/2005)
posted: 1/07/2005
Author(s): Gabrielle McKinnon (Australian National University)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper; Parliament (pages: 10)  
Following the first anniversary of the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 , Gabrielle McKinnon examines the impact of the legislation on rights protection in the ACT. Her review covers impact on the courts, on legislation and on policy development.
Review of the first year of operation of the Human Rights Act 2004 (published: 6/2005)
posted: 30/06/2005
Author(s): Helen Watchirs (ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper; Parliament
The ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to have a Bill of Rights. One year after its commencement, the ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Watchirs, finds that its biggest impact has been in influencing the formulation of government policy and legislation.
How democratic is parliament? A case study in auditing the performance of parliament (published: 6/2005)
posted: 30/06/2005
Author(s): John Uhr (Political Science Program, Research School of Social Science, ANU.)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
John Uhr provides an Audit of Australian Parliament. He ranks the various components with a high, medium or low score against the four key values of the IDEA framework – political equality, popular control of government, civil liberties and human rights and public deliberation. Uhr considers the Senate in a positive light, with particular reference to proportional representation, scrutiny of legislation and the committee system. He rates negatively the low number of private members’ bills, questions surrounding ministerial responsibility, the nature of Question Time, particularly in the House of Representatives, and the government’s proposals relating to political donations. Uhr argues that, when the Howard government gains control of the Senate on 1 July 2005, a major concern is that it might use its majority in the Senate to reduce democracy within Parliament.
State upper houses (published: 6/2005)
posted: 1/06/2005
Author(s): Bruce Stone (University of Western Australia)
Category: Parliament; Electoral; – Audit paper
In this paper Bruce Stone audits State upper houses and finds electoral reform is the key to improved performance in legislative review and executive scrutiny but some houses are simply too small to be effective.
Increased political donations – Recipe for corruption (published: 11/2005)
posted: 1/06/2005
Author(s): Peter Andren (Independent Federal Member for Calare)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Parties/Independents; – Audit paper
Peter Andren MP follows up on the proposal to increase the disclosure threshold for donations to political parties and to raise the tax deductibility limit. He argues the changes will further erode democracy. Andren’s comments can be viewed here.  See also Joo-Cheong Tham’s recent analysis below.
Open Government – missing the target by a country mile (published: 5/2005)
posted: 5/05/2005
Author(s): Rick Snell (University of Tasmani)
Category: Accountability; Rights; – Audit paper
The cost of Freedom of Information requests continues to be a focus of discussion following Denis O’Brien’s paper in March. Now, Rick Snell (University of Tasmania) discusses the ACT government’s actions in this area – both as an initiator and recipient of FOI requests, and its belief that responding to FOI requests is not part of a government’s normal work.
Getting elected as an Independent: Electoral laws and party favouritism (published: 5/2005)
posted: 5/05/2005
Author(s): Jennifer Curtin (Monash University)
Category: Electoral; Parties/Independents; – Audit paper
Although Australia has a high number of independent parliamentarians compared to other democracies, there isn’t necessarily a level playing field when competing with party members and candidates. Jennifer Curtin (Monash University) highlights various ways in which Independents and independent candidates are disadvantaged through Australia’s various electoral systems and parliamentary processes.
Political donation changes favour the rich and increase the risk of corruption (published: 1/2005)
posted: 1/05/2005
Author(s): Joo-Cheong Tham (La Trobe University)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
The major Australian parties rely heavily on corporate donations to finance their election campaigns. Tham argues that this threatens Australian democracy in various ways and proposes criteria to use in developing options for reform.
Canadian elections – How democratic? (published: 6/2005)
posted: 1/05/2005
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
Professor Marian Sawer, Political Science Program, The Australian National University (PDF) Marian Sawer of the Democratic Audit team argues that since above-the-line voting was introduced for the Australian Senate in 1984 there has been concern over what happens with preferences under this system.
Public confidence in Australian democracy (published: 5/2005)
posted: 1/05/2005
Author(s): Scott Brenton (Australian National University)
Category: Public opinion; – Audit paper; NGOs/participation
Scott Brenton examines data from the 2003 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes and the 2004 Australian Electoral Study, in considering whether there is declining confidence in Australia’s democratic institutions. The paper examines issues of democracy, government, politicians, parliaments, the legal system and public servants.
Democracy in the European Union (published: 4/2005)
posted: 1/04/2005
Author(s): Richard Bellamy (University of Essex)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper; Accountability
The creation of the European Parliament raises question in relation to democracies that transcend national boundaries. In this discussion paper, Professor Richard Bellamy looks at the rights-based v public interest dichotomy as it applies to the legitimacy of the European Union.
History of electoral provisions for local government in South Australia (published: 3/2005)
posted: 1/03/2005
Author(s): Jade Bruss (State Electoral Office, South Australia)
Category: Electoral; Parliament; – Audit paper
Did you know that: Proportional representation was first used in 1840 for the Municipal Corporation of Adelaide election (the first municipality established in Australia); South Australia was the first colony to give women the vote in local government elections – in 1861; The first woman elected to local government in Australia was Susan Grace Berry, elected to Brighton Council in South Australia in 1919 (five years after women were allowed to stand as candidates); You can find out more about the history of local government in South Australia from this comprehensive account and chronology of legislative change by Jade Bruss, formerly of the South Australian State Electoral Office.
Freedom of Information law in need of an overhaul (published: 3/2005)
posted: 1/03/2005
Author(s): Dennis O’Brien (Partner at Law Firm Minter Ellison)
Category: Rights; Accountability; – Audit paper
Last month, the Audit referred to the recent AAT decision to uphold the ‘conclusive certificate’ issued by the Federal Treasurer to block access to Tax Office reports on the effects of bracket creep. This month, Dennis O’Brien, a partner at Minter Ellison, has written a paper – Freedom of Information Law in Need of Overhaul. An abbreviated version of the paper also appears in this month’s Public Sector Informant. Mr O’Brien argues that Australia’s FOI laws need to be reviewed and updated, including the removal of the conclusive certificate provision for internal working documents, adoption of FOI best practice, and a review of the fees and charges that can be used to impede access to information.
Western Australia’s state election: democracy in action? (published: 2/2005)
posted: 21/02/2005
Author(s): Peter van Onselen (Edith Cowan University)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
In the lead-up to Western Australia’s state election on 26 February, Edith Cowan University lecturer Peter van Onselen comments on issues relating to the level of democracy present in the state’s electoral process. Issues addressed include malapportionment, prisoner voting, public funding and media coverage.
Parliamentary terms (published: 2/2005)
posted: 7/02/2005
Author(s): Norm Kelly (Australian National University), Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Electoral; – Audit paper (pages: 4)  
Marian Sawer and Norm Kelly consider the length of terms in Australian parliaments. Traditionally terms have been for three years, but in recent decades terms have been extended to four years in most parliaments. There has also been a trend to stipulating a fixed term or election date.
What price integrity? Funding Australia’s integrity systems (published: 2/2005)
posted: 1/02/2005
Author(s): A.J. Brown (Griffith University), Brian Head (Griffith University)
Category: Public service/statutory bodies; Accountability; – Audit paper
A. J. Brown and Brian Head compare the level of resources different Australian governments give to anti-corruption watchdog agencies. On the combined measures of staffing and budget (as percentages of total public sector), Queensland agencies are best resourced, followed by NSW and Western Australia. Victoria, a perennial straggler since 1990, has now overtaken the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman—Time for independence? (published: 1/2005)
posted: 14/01/2005
Author(s): John T D Wood (International ombudsman consultant and former Deputy Commonwealth Ombudsman.)
Category: Public service/statutory bodies; Accountability; – Audit paper (pages: 6)  
John T D Wood, an international ombudsman consultant, and former Deputy Commonwealth Ombudsman, looks at the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, one of the largest in the world in terms of the volume of complaints heard. While it has greatly enhanced the accountability of government to individual citizens, he notes however, that its effectiveness has been curbed through resource cutbacks and conflicts of interest in funding arrangements (PDF).
Audit values: Reflecting the complexity of representative democracy (published: 1/2005)
posted: 1/01/2005
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: ; – Audit paper
Marian Sawer considers the two principles inspiring the international democratic audit framework – (1) popular control over decision-making and (2) political equality in the exercise of that control. There are good reasons to add (3) human rights/civil liberties and (4) deliberative democracy, to highlight the tensions experienced in many western democracies with the rise of populism. Majoritarian interpretations of popular control and political equality are competing with other values associated with representative democracies, as seen in the recent Norwegian audit.
A SLAPP in the face of democracy (published: 12/2004)
posted: 20/12/2004
Author(s): Sharon Beder (University of Wollongong)
Category: Rights; NGOs/participation; – Audit paper (pages: 3)  
Sharon Beder from the University of Wollongong takes a look at the increasing use of ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’, or SLAPPs, by corporations against individual citizens and groups for exercising their democratic rights (PDF).
Determining parliamentary parties—A real status symbol (published: 12/2004)
posted: 15/12/2004
Author(s): Norm Kelly (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Parties/Independents; – Audit paper (pages: 4)  
Norm Kelly, a former Member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia and a soon to be member of the Political Science Program at the Australian National University, looks at the advantages that follow when minor parties achieve parliamentary party status (PDF).
The role of the media in the public disclosure of electoral funding (published: 12/2004)
posted: 1/12/2004
Author(s): Robin Tennant-Wood (Australian National University)
Category: Media; Political Finance/Govt Advertising; – Audit paper (pages: 11)  
Focusing on the issue of transparency and disclosure in party funding, or the seeming lack thereof, Robin Tennant-Wood of the ANU analyses the ‘symbiotic relationship’ between Australian political parties and the Australian media (PDF).
Level democratic playing field—You must be joking (published: 11/2004)
posted: 12/11/2004
Author(s): Peter Andren (Independent Federal Member for Calare)
Category: Incumbency benefits; Political Finance/Govt Advertising; – Audit paper
Peter Andren, the Independent Member of Parliament for Calare, offers a critique of the advantages of incumbency at election time, taking particular aim at the use and abuse of parliamentary ‘entitlements’. He also puts forward some thought-provoking proposals for reform.
Wasted votes? Informal voting and the 2004 election (published: 11/2004)
posted: 3/11/2004
Author(s): Sally Young (University of Melbourne)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
Money has become central to the process of political communication in Australia. Australian politicians believe that TV advertising and direct mail are key means of persuading citizens and winning votes. This paper argues that incumbents are now being given massive advantages in their ability to afford these favoured method of political communication through government advertising and parliamentary entitlements.
Above the line Senate voting (published: 11/2004)
posted: 1/11/2004
Author(s): Peter Brent (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; Parliament; – Audit paper
Peter Brent of the ANU takes a look at above-the-line Senate Ticket voting and the practice of ‘preference swapping’ to see how a Party with only 1.9 per cent of the vote in the 2004 election manages to get elected to the Senate.
Making voters’ voices’ heard? Citizens’ initiated referendums in New Zealand (published: 10/2004)
posted: 24/10/2004
Author(s): Elizabeth McLeay (Victoria University of Wellington)
Category: Constitution/federalism; Accountability; – Audit paper (pages: 6)  
Drawing on the recent experiences of New Zealand, Elizabeth McLeay of Victoria University of Wellington discusses the success, or otherwise, of Citizens’ Initiated Referendums in New Zealand.
Political databases and democracy: Incumbency advantage and privacy concerns (published: 10/2004)
posted: 1/10/2004
Author(s): Peter van Onselen (Edith Cowan University)
Category: Parties/Independents; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Australia’s major political parties operate powerful databases using information contained on the lectoral roll about every Australian voter. Starting with the raw data on each constituent provided by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), political parties attempt to build a picture including political leanings and interests, for the primary purpose of winning elections.
The leaders debate: How democratic? (published: 9/2004)
posted: 16/09/2004
Author(s): John Uhr (Australian National University)
Category: Media; Electoral; – Audit paper
Following his appearance on ABC’s Lateline program on Monday 13th September to discuss the ‘great debate’ between Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Mark Latham, John Uhr of the ANU provides further commentary on the state and future of leadership debates.
Trade agreements and democratic values (published: 9/2004)
posted: 1/09/2004
Author(s): John Quiggin (University of Queensland)
Category: Accountability; – Audit paper (pages: 5)  
In the wake of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, John Quiggin of the University of Queensland discusses the impact of trade agreements on democratic values.
Ending felon disenfranchisement in the United States: Litigation or legislation? (published: 9/2004)
posted: 1/09/2004
Author(s): Richard L. Hasen ((Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA)
Category: Felon disenfranchisement; – Audit paper; Electoral (pages: 4)  
Following his recent study trip to Australia, electoral law specialist, Richard L. Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles reports on recent developments in felon disenfranchisement in the United States. See also Sandey Fitzgerald’s audit paper ‘Ending Felon Disenfranchisement – What Voting Rights Should Prisoners Have?’
Election campaign and party financing in Canada (published: 9/2004)
posted: 1/09/2004
Author(s): Anthony M Sayers (University of Calgary), Lisa Young (University of Calgary)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Electoral; – Audit paper (pages: 10)  
Anthony M. Sayers and Lisa Young of the University of Calgary take a comparative look at political party funding in Canada and Australia.
A senator for expat Australians (published: 7/2004)
posted: 1/07/2004
Author(s): Andrew Leigh (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; Parliament; – Audit paper (pages: 3)  
Andrew Leigh, a recently returned expat now calling the Economics Program in the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU home, proposes that expatriate Australians should have their own Senator to represent their interests (PDF).
Electronic voting in the ACT (published: 7/2004)
posted: 1/07/2004
Author(s): Phillip Green (ACT Electoral Commissioner)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper (pages: 4)  
Phillip Green, the Australian Capital Territory Electoral Commissioner, reflects on the ACT experience with electronic voting (PDF).
Public sector board appointments (published: 7/2004)
posted: 1/07/2004
Author(s): Meredith Edwards (University of Canberra)
Category: Public service/statutory bodies; – Audit paper; Accountability
Meredith Edwards of the National Institute of Governance at the University of Canberra considers appointments to public sector boards in Australia and identifies opportunities for reform drawing on experiences from abroad.
Australia’s first bill of rights (published: 4/2004)
posted: 1/06/2004
Author(s): George Williams (University of New South Wales)
Category: Rights; – Audit paper
George Williams follows-up his commentary on the pros and cons of a Bill of Rights by commenting on Australia’s first Bill of Rights, as passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly. Coming into force in the Australian Capital Territory on 1 July 2004, the ACT Bill of Rights will be known as the Human Rights Act.
Above-the-line voting—How democratic? (published: 6/2004)
posted: 1/06/2004
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
Audit team member Marian Sawer’s article, ‘How democratic are our elections?’, published in the Australian Review of Public Affairs (formerly The Drawing Board).
Contact between Australian MPs and their constituents (published: 6/2004)
posted: 1/06/2004
Author(s): Pipa Norris (Harvard University)
Category: Public opinion; Electoral; – Audit paper
Pippa Norris of Harvard University and a Member of the Democratic Audit of Australia’s International Advisory Committee, asks: ‘Are Australian MPs in touch with constituents?’ One of the most important features of representative democracy is the strength of the linkages between citizens and elected representatives. It is commonly thought that the electoral system, particularly the ballot structure used when citizens cast a vote, plays an important role in this process.
Reforms to the Victorian Legislative Council (published: 4/2004)
posted: 7/04/2004
Author(s): Brian Costar (Monash University)
Category: Electoral; Parliament; – Audit paper
Brian Costar argues that the passage of the Constitution (Parliamentary Reform) Act 2003 by the Victorian parliament may prove to be a watershed in the evolution of Victorian bicameralism. The new Act provides for the most extensive set of changes to the State’s constitutional arrangements since 1856.
For and against a bill of rights (published: 4/2004)
posted: 1/04/2004
Author(s): George Williams (University of New South Wales)
Category: Rights; Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
There are strong arguments for and against a Bill of Rights (either statutory or constitutional) for Australia. These have been set out by people such as Peter Bailey, Justice Michael Kirby and Michael Zander. Their main arguments are summarised.
Federalism and democracy: A reply to Parkin (published: 3/2004)
posted: 12/03/2004
Author(s): Graham Maddox (University of New England)
Category: Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
In this response to Andrew Parkin’s paper, Maddox argues that federalism is designed to favour the status quo and to inflict automatic defeat on majorities. He concludes: if democracy is not for the benefit of legally constituted majorities, indeed over time for the whole people, how can it justify the name at all?
Auditing the independence of the Auditor-General (published: 3/2004)
posted: 12/03/2004
Author(s): Ken Coghill (Monash University)
Category: Accountability; Public service/statutory bodies; – Audit paper (pages: 6)  
The independence of the Auditor-General is now accepted as one of the important elements of accountability in democratic parliamentary systems like Australia. How well does the independence of Australia’s Auditors-General measure up though? This paper assesses each Australian jurisdiction, focusing particularly on the Commonwealth and the Australian Capital Territory.
Democratic and electoral shifts in Queensland: Back to first past the post voting (published: 2/2004)
posted: 1/02/2004
Author(s): John Wanna (Griffith University)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper
In democratic terms, the use of optional preferential voting in Queensland appears to empower the voter, allowing individuals to decide whether or not to allocate preferences to some or all candidates. But in the hands of parties anxious to maximise their electoral advantage, optional preferential voting risks becoming a de facto first-past-the-post system-in which candidates can be elected with around 35 per cent of the formal vote. Optional preferential voting has the potential, then, to inflate majorities while penalising the most divided side of politics.
Government by regulation: A case of democratic deficit? (published: 12/2003)
posted: 4/12/2003
Author(s): Ernst Willheim (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
Parliamentary procedures for tabling and disallowance of delegated legislation, together with restrictions on the remaking of regulations that have been disallowed, enable considerable scrutiny of the Executive. However, Government action in November 2003 to excise by regulation off-shore islands from Australia’s migration zone highlights deficiencies in these procedures. The paper recommends changes designed to enhance democratic control over the regulation-making powers of the Executive.
Democracy news: They do things differently there . . . democracy in Western Australia (published: 11/2003)
posted: 26/11/2003
Author(s): Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; Electoral; – Audit paper
Rural weighting of votes in Western Australia has long been a matter of contention and generally seen as out of step with the democratic principle of one-vote one-value. Now it will continue as a consequence of a High Court decision on 13 November 2003. State government attempts to introduce public funding have also been abandoned after a populist campaign by the West Australian newspaper.
Democracy, communication and money (published: 11/2003)
posted: 19/11/2003
Author(s): Sally Young (University of Melbourne)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; Incumbency benefits; – Audit paper
Money has become central to the process of political communication in Australia. Australian politicians believe that TV advertising and direct mail are key means of persuading citizens and winning votes. This paper argues that incumbents are now being given massive advantages in their ability to afford these favoured method of political communication through government advertising and parliamentary entitlements.
Regulating election polls (published: 8/2003)
posted: 29/08/2003
Author(s): Olof Petersson (Democratic Audit of Sweden)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper; Public opinion
Professor Petersson writes that the fear of undue influence on voters is the reason why many democracies have discussed and quite a few have decided to regulate the publication of election polls. Yet such action raises several difficult questions. Do polls really influence voting behaviour? Is a total or partial ban on election polls compatible with basic democratic principles such as the freedom of the press? And could a national embargo on the publication of polls really be effective in a world of Internet and global media?
ATSIC elections and democracy: administration, self-Identification, participation and representation (published: 7/2003)
posted: 24/07/2003
Author(s): Will Sanders (Australian National University)
Category: Electoral; Accountability; – Audit paper
Following a review of the five rounds of ATSIC elections Will Sanders concludes that, on grounds of electoral administration, participation and representation, ATSIC deserves support as a reasonably democratic attempt to develop an elected national Indigenous representative structure. ATSIC elections do seem to be fairly ‘full, free and fair’.
Reform of the Senate (published: 7/2003)
posted: 9/07/2003
Author(s): Harry Evans (Clerk of the Senate)
Category: Parliament; Accountability; – Audit paper
Harry Evans comments on the Prime Minister’s recent proposals to ‘reform’ the Senate. He notes that the proposals aim at ensuring Government legislation is passed and rejects claims that the Government has a mandate to get its way. Attempts by the Labor Party to water down the Howard proposals are unsatisfactory. And the community is unlikely to agree to change.
Lessons from the Hollingworth affair (published: 6/2003)
posted: 17/06/2003
Author(s): George Winterton (University of New South Wales)
Category: Constitution/federalism; Accountability; – Audit paper
The Affair has, this paper argues, crystallized what had for some time been immanent, but perhaps not obvious: the public’s sense of ownership and demand for accountability of this once obscure and remote, but now prominent, public office.
Compulsory Voting (published: 6/2003)
posted: 4/06/2003
Author(s): Lisa Hill (University of Adelaide)
Category: Electoral; – Audit paper; Public opinion
Australia’s system of compulsory voting enjoys high levels of community acceptance but has its critics. This paper argues that compulsory voting serves the value of equality of political opportunity as well as maintaining high voter turnout. It ensures that voting is not confined to the more prosperous members of society and preserves political community as well as acting as a buffer against social isolation.
Ghosts of the civil dead: Prisoner disenfranchisement (published: 5/2003)
posted: 9/05/2003
Author(s): Graeme Orr (Griffith University)
Category: Felon disenfranchisement; Electoral; – Audit paper
One significant group of Australian citizens is in large part excluded from voting. They are persons under sentence of imprisonment. The paper questions the various grounds advanced for this exclusion. It notes the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn prisoner disenfranchisement but concludes that prospects for reform in Australia are limited. See other papers on felon disenfranchisement
The normalisation of corporate contributions to political parties: A threat to democracy (published: 1/2003)
posted: 24/01/2003
Author(s): Joo-Cheong Tham (University of Melbourne)
Category: Political Finance/Govt Advertising; – Audit paper; Incumbency benefits
Joo-Cheong Tham argues that recent government proposals to increase the threshold for disclosing the identity of political donors, and to raise the ceiling for tax-deductibility, are fraught with problems. The proposals would advantage wealthy political donors and further increase their political access vis à vis the less well off, hence reducing political equality. Further, raising the disclosure threshold would increase the level of secrecy and the potential for corruption and undue influence.
Federalists can be Democrats and Democrats ought to be Federalists: A response to Maddox. (published: 1/2003)
posted: 1/01/2003
Author(s): Andrew Parkin (Flinders University)
Category: Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
In this response to Maddox’s paper on ‘Federalism and Democracy’ (available below), Parkin points to a range of democratic attributes which, in his view, are likely to be enhanced by a federal system of government. He argues that these should be investigated as part of the Democratic Audit of Australia.
Question Time: Questionable questioning with few answers (published: 11/2002)
posted: 14/11/2002
Author(s): Ken Coghill (Monash University)
Category: Parliament; – Audit paper
Outrageous behaviour leading to ‘sin-binning’, accusatory statements masquerading as questions, replies that do not answer, attacks on political opponents claiming to be answers to questions: is it any wonder Question Time is questioned as an accountability mechanism? Democracy requires that Question Time be restored to its fundamental role in the scrutiny of Government through simple reforms that would transform the behaviour of Members and Ministers.
Democracy and the constitution (published: 10/2002)
posted: 31/10/2002
Author(s): Elaine Thompson (University of New South Wales)
Category: Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
This paper points to both liberal democratic and anti-democratic elements in the Australian Constitution before arguing that it should be read in the context of High Court interpretations and in such a way as to take account of the central theme of voting by the people.
Federalism and democracy (published: 9/2002)
posted: 1/09/2002
Author(s): Graham Maddox (University of New England)
Category: Constitution/federalism; – Audit paper
In the very moment of its invention, federalism was pitted against democracy. How can a system which in Australia is acknowledged on all sides to be a peculiar impediment to traditional Labor – and indeed to progressive Liberal – politics, be said to be conducive to democracy? Any objective audit of democracy will have to engage with the anti-democratic bias of the theory of federalism as well as the issues of democratic accountability that federalism presents.
What is a house of review? (published: 9/2002)
posted: 1/09/2002
Author(s): John Uhr (Australian National University)
Category: Parliament; – Audit paper
This paper argues that review at its most basic means legislative review, including reviews which take the policy initiative and set appropriate legal standards for government. It draws lessons from ACT Government arrangements and those of the Senate. The paper concludes with a warning about misapplying concepts of review.

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