faith in democracy

Stephen Andrew’s speech on lost faith in democracy

(This is an edited version of the Private Members speech Stephen delivered in Parliament today. See the full transcript here.)
The Queensland Government is increasingly adopting policies and laws, that encroach further and further on the rights and liberties of Queenslanders. For nearly two years now, we have heard endless rationalisations from our leaders on the need to reduce transparency and accountability in favour of ‘speed and efficiency’. Meanwhile, Parliament is being bypassed, and all its power to provide oversight and scrutiny, is diminished or taken away.
Woven throughout the rhetoric, can be seen a growing “consensus” developing between all our political, civic, institutional and corporate elites – one that is contemptuous of the Australian liberal democratic system and the people it once served. How many times have I sat in on committees and listened as some bureaucratic “expert” or another, gave testimony infused with the understanding that ‘the public’ were simply something that had to be “managed”, somehow?
As one commented, when discussing a new law: “We don’t want to startle the horses or anything.” The prevailing idea being, of course, that ordinary people are incapable of making “correct judgements” when it comes to decision-making. They are, in short, ‘unworthy’ of participation in their own government. This attitude is now reaching dangerous levels in Australia.
Ordinary people don’t seem to matter anymore. Even worse, many elites within government and the media, are now trying to re-cast them as some kind of radical extremists, or even domestic terror ‘threat’. This is shameful.
I used to think that all members of parliament shared my belief in the superiority and strength of our liberal democratic system of government.
It is a system that enabled our country to build a strong foundation of trust and unity, from which we were then able to overcome every crisis and period of adversity we faced, together.
My real fear, with all these strange new laws and undemocratic changes, is that they may become permanent – in which case, we will have lost our democracy. If that were to happen, the ‘burden of responsibility’ for its loss would be on the shoulders of every member of parliament in the country – including myself.
Which is why I intend to do everything I can to ensure that never happens.
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