Parliamentary processes must be strengthened to rebuild public trust in Australia’s democratic system, a Senate committee has found.
The Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee tabled the report of its inquiry into Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy last night.
It is not a typical report by a Senate committee. The report’s recommendations take action to strengthen public trust in democracy.
The committee’s task was to investigate long-term indications that the level of public trust in government and democracy was in decline. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a new confidence among Australians in the ability to follow expert advice, but this remains fragile and it is yet to be seen whether it will continue beyond the pandemic.
The committee believes that the level of civic engagement in Australia will increase if people are persuaded that politicians and the Parliament are acting in defence of their living standards and their rights, liberties and opportunities.
The report calls for a strengthening of civics education, scientific advice to Parliament, parliamentary accountability and parliamentary committee scrutiny because, through the committee system, Australians are able to participate in the work of the Parliament.
The inquiry was conducted over 19 months, issued two discussion papers, received 205 written submissions and conducted three public hearings.
The report calls for members of Parliament to be more vigilant in defending democratic processes and in ensuring adequate scrutiny of legislation. Nearly half of all legislation is now delegated legislation and some of it cannot be disallowed by Parliament.
The committee’s 18 recommendations also include proposals for engagement with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, dealing with dual citizens rights, increased public funding of political parties and candidates and a federal anti-corruption commission.
A full copy of the committee report can be found: HERE