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Democracy Policy

Summary

 

The Queensland Parliament must be reformed to not only address the lack of government scrutiny but to adequately represent the votes of the people of Queensland. For this reason, the Queensland Greens recommend a system of electoral reform based on the introduction of Mixed Member Proportional Representation (with a modification to allow Optional Preferential Voting in local electorates). This system, used in New Zealand and Germany, provides for local members (elected from single-member constituencies) and allocates extra seats to parties (or groups of candidates) according to a state-wide vote for those parties or groups in order to restore proportionality in the vote. For example, in an election with 89 electorates and 11 extra seats (for a total of 100 seats), a party winning 2 electorates but receiving 8% of the state-wide vote will be allocated an extra 6 seats to bring their share of the seats in line with their share of the vote.

The Queensland Greens recognise that many groups and individuals, including indigenous people, the young, the elderly, the poor and migrants, are shut out of the governmental decision making processes by way of barriers such as time and money. To empower the people of Queensland in their ability to determine their way of life and the development of their community, the Queensland Greens will reform the processes of community consultation with respect to governmental action as well as urban and regional planning (see Planning and Development policy) and encourage the fostering of opportunities for individuals to engage in community building. A policy of treating all people as equals under the law brings with it an obligation on governments to give all people equal opportunity to have their voice heard both on the floor of parliament and in governmental decision making.

The Qld Greens will also investigate revision of electoral signage regulations, caps on both donations and expenditure by political parties and independent candidates, reform of parliamentary and public service processes, enrolment of all Year 12 students and the deamalgamation of the local government system.

 

Principles

The Queensland Greens believe that:

  1. Our democratic and electoral institutions should aim to empower individuals and communities in the face of larger powers such as government, business, the media, etc.
  2. Parliament is the central authority of representative and responsible government in Queensland.
  3. Citizens have the right and the responsibility to participate in the processes of government both as electors and contributors to participatory processes. The contribution of diverse groups to the political process is inherently valuable.
  4. A democratic parliamentary system requires: a Bill or Charter of Rights, separation of powers, an independent public service, a system of checks and balances, genuine representation in elected bodies of significant shades of opinion in the community, and complete information and public debate underpinning the making of laws and policy.
  5. Queensland's electoral system and unicameral parliament do not provide proper democratic checks and balance or a parliament that is genuinely representative of the community. The fair representation of all voices in the community is integral to the maintenance of a healthy democracy.
  6. Proportional Representation provides the best and fairest manner of ensuring all sections of the community have a voice in elected bodies such as local councils and the Legislative Assembly.
  7. Recognition of local government in the Queensland Constitution should be enhanced. Without fair, accountable and inclusive representation, local government and its processes are susceptible to corruption.
  8. Legislated authority for regional planning and representative bodies is a legitimate and necessary check in a modern democratic system faced with complex ecological and social sustainability problems.
  9. Formal participative processes are a necessary and legitimate means of engaging, and including, communities and community bodies in the processes of government.
  10. Community participation in decision making should be not be arbitrary, but should involve whole communities or duly constituted community groups. Processes should be transparent, stable and authoritative.
  11. Marginalised groups should be given real opportunities to, and encouraged to, participate in policy debates.
  12. Community groups and individuals must be provided with sufficient information and resources to enable meaningful participation.
  13. Involvement in community organisation should be recognised as volunteer work.

Goals

The Queensland Greens want:

  1. Electoral and constitutional reform so that Queensland has truly democratic systems of government.
  2. Proportional representation in State and local elections.
  3. A Bill or Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
  4. To make State elections fairer through fixed terms of office with fixed election dates.
  5. The elimination of the undue influence of money in election campaigns to reduce the risk and appearance of the subversion of the voters' will to the benefit of groups such as business lobbies and unions.
  6. To reform the system of public funding of election campaigns so that it promotes a level playing field for candidates.
  7. Auditing of “in kind” support.
  8. To ensure that community organisations and individuals, including public servants, are able to participate in public debate without fear of retribution.
  9. Support and resources for representatives of marginalised groups to participate in consultation processes.
  10. To ensure that government agencies take account of the time and money spent by community groups in participation processes.
  11. To ensure that governments openly provide information to citizens in a timely and not financially burdensome manner.
  12. Improve Queensland's Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation to make government more accountable to the people.
  13. To ensure that the Public Service provides independent advice free from political influence.
  14. To strengthen the Whistleblowers' Protection Act such that it actually protects whistleblowers.
  15. To bring about a socially just Queensland in which citizens are empowered to take control of their lives and have their say in the decisions that effect them and their community.

Measures

The Queensland Greens will:

  1. Propose the adoption of the Mixed Member Proportional Representation system for Queensland General Elections.
  2. Hold plebiscites in each local government over 10,000 voters to determine whether that local government area would prefer to adopt the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system or the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for the proportional election of Councillors.
  3. Investigate the feasibility of reversing the local government amalgamation and provide for plebiscites for those local governments wishing to de-amalgamate.
  4. Introduce a Bill or Charter of Rights for Queensland.
  5. Introduce fixed terms for the Legislative Assembly.
  6. Send an ECQ representative to each Queensland high school to inform all Year 12 students about the importance and legal requirements of voting and to have the facilities for the enrolment of those students.
  7. Review regulations regarding How to Vote cards, electoral signage and other material to standardise the information available to voters. Display all "How to Vote" information (including voting tickets) inside polling booths.
  8. Provide facilities for representatives to enable them to communicate effectively with their constituents, with special provision for large remote electorates.
  9. Fund educational and support programmes to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take their place in government processes as voters, participants in planning and community consultation processes and as parliamentary and local government representatives.
  10. Review the Parliamentary committee system to determine ways to make it more democratic, effective and accountable to Parliament.
  11. Provide non-government members of parliament with adequate resources (including an equitable number of staff) to enable them to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
  12. Appoint an Information Commissioner who will have powers of investigation (akin to that of an ombudsman) to examine if government denials and appeals against FOI exposure conform to the spirit and the letter of the Act.
  13. Extend FOI to cover all government entities, including Government owned corporations.
  14. Review FOI photocopy fees so that FOI remains affordable and investigate the electronic storage and provision of material requested under FOI.
  15. Investigate an appropriate cap for election campaign expenditure.
  16. Change electoral law so that donations must be declared in as up front a manner as possible before elections.
  17. Investigate an appropriate cap on donations to political parties and candidates.
  18. Review the process for public service management appointment in order to restore the seniority system and remove patronage.

 

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