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What can Britain learn from Australian democratic innovations?

  • Date(s)
    12 January 2016
  • Time
    17.30-19.00 followed by drinks reception
  • Location
    St Matthew’s Conference Centre, 20 Great Peter St, Westminster, London SW1P 2BU
What can Britain learn from Australian democratic innovations?

In an age when many people feel that politics is broken, there are nonetheless pockets around the world where democracy is being reinvented. In recent years, Australia has been quietly become a leader in democratic innovation, promoting a new form of political participation and civic engagement, where ordinary people have an important role in debating and designing public policy.

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, as founder of the non-partisan newDemocracy Foundation, has played a key role in facilitating and organising randomly selected citizens' juries, community panels and a citizens' parliament. The initiatives have given citizens a voice on issues ranging from town planning, energy generation, electoral reform, cyclist safety, infrastructure renewal and even planning a 10 year. $4 billion budget for the city of Melbourne.

Belgiorno-Nettis argues that a Citizens' Senate - a third house of parliament comprised of randomly selected people - could be trialled as well. Considered deliberation by ordinary people is a key component to restoring trust in public decision-making. Democracy is about more than a vote.

As Policy Network and the Barrow Cadbury Trust's new report The Populist Signal highlights, large swathes of UK voters also feel that politics doesn't work. At the same time, polling shows that there is a genuine desire for greater participation in decision-making, including randomly selected citizens' assemblies.

Could and should the UK pursue similar democratic reforms as we have seen in Australia? Would they ease the political disaffection and alienation fuelling support for populists?



Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, founder of the newDemocracy Foundation

Alison McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South and chair of Progress

Lord Purvis of Tweed, Liberal Democrat peer

Shahrar Ali, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales


Claudia Chwalisz,
senior researcher at Policy Network and author of The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change


Before the event, we interviewed Luca Belgiorno-Nettis on the benefits of democratic innovations and what may lead to Australian-styled innovations being used in the UK.



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