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Greens launch participatory democracy policy for citizens juries and petitions to be debated

Media Release
Larissa Waters 15 Apr 2019

The Greens are today announcing a commitment to bring the voice of the people into politics through trials of Citizens Juries and participatory budgeting, and requiring a parliamentary debate on petitions which receive over 100,000 signatures.

Senator Larissa Waters, Greens co-Deputy Leader and democracy spokesperson, said “Confidence in Australia’s democratic systems is at an all time low, and no wonder when governments are working for their corporate donor mates and and ignoring the people who elect them. It’s critically important that we work to earn back trust, and giving people a real voice in decision-making is central to that.”

“The Greens have been leading the political debate for many years on getting the influence of big money from corporate donations out of politics, closing the revolving door of lobbyists and MPs and setting up a federal anti-corruption commission,” Senator Waters said.

“This election, we are taking that commitment further, with plans to not just get corporate money out of politics but also create paths to bring the people back in.

“We’ve just seen an enormous petition with 1.4 million signatures calling for Fraser Anning to be booted from the parliament which was tabled by Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, but what many people don’t realise is the petition is never actually debated by federal politicians. We think that’s wrong and petitions that reach a threshold of 100,000 people – the equivalent size of a lower house electorate – should be allocated time during parliamentary sittings for debate and to be voted on so the signatories know where their representatives stand."

Greens candidate for the new seat of Canberra, Tim Hollo, who has been running a series of participatory democracy meetings across the electorate, said “On climate change, refugees, planning, and so much more, our politics has been failing us, because governments are listening to their corporate backers instead of the people. We absolutely have to turn that around, and fast."

“Involving a broad range of people in decision-making, and giving them space and support to discuss the ideas, consistently leads to better decisions,” he said.

“What’s even better is that people love the opportunity to get involved. At our community meetings, people have been having a great time, and really appreciate that their views and ideas are being taken seriously.

“We need our politics to work for people and planet, not just profits, and to do that we have to get corporate money out and bring the people back in. 

The Greens policy will:

  • legislate to require a formal and meaningful parliamentary debate on issues for which a petition reaches a threshold of 100,000 signatures;
  • work with the government to select a mutually agreed key issue on which to run a national Citizens’ Jury and a trial of participatory budgeting; and
  • legislate to ensure that government decision-making bodies include citizens in a meaningful way.
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