Since YourView was featured in The Zone, we’ve been inundated by a minor flood of expressions of support and offers of assistance. The common thread is the view that Australian democracy is, if not wholly broken, at least seriously ill; and the hope that something like YourView can help mend it. This email is a good example:
I read about this project in yesterday’s Age newspaper. It looks like a very exciting and hopefully ground breaking way to improve our flawed democracy – one where powerful vested interest groups such as billionaire miners seemingly have more power than our elected government.
I’m very much hoping that your brilliant idea will grow into a powerful tool to guide decision making.
I have long worried that our democracy is seriously flawed because of key failures in prerequisite areas for a healthy democracy – firstly, a well informed public, and secondly a more effective means for that public to decide on key issues than via an election every three years. Thirdly, politicians who routinely break promises and who are only minimally accountable, and lastly, the increasing influence of big corporate money over who can get elected.
Clearly having a highly monopolised and privately owned news media is major barrier to a well informed public. Furthermore the anti-education sneering towards intellectuals and so-called “elites” under the Howard government seems to have damaged the quality of debate in Australia. And lastly, as the pokies and mining tax debates have so clearly demonstrated, large corporations and powerful industry groups can frighten and bully governments out of making sensible decisions.
To which I’d only add that YourView is studiously agnostic on any given issue. We agree that the news media are inappropriately dominated by powerful interest groups and that this can warp public opinion. However YourView itself has no stand on whether, say, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax is a good idea.