Disrupting Democracy – Using the Internet to Facilitate Political Participation
The Democratic Reform Alliance is an Internet based membership party with a pre-defined set of policies focussed on bringing reform to the Australian political system.
The Democratic Reform Alliance seeks to extend the definition and practice of democracy in Australia by allowing party members to use the Internet to vote on legislation before the Parliament through democratically elected Democratic Reform Alliance representatives.
The proposal represents a major advance in the model of representative democracy in Australia and around the world. In so doing the Democratic Reform Alliance seeks to become Australia and the world’s first mass member Internet based political party.
This strategy and the mechanism by which it is delivered represent a critical new development in terms of political organising and participation in modern democracies.
How will the Democratic Reform Alliance’s Internet Voting Platform work?
The Voting Platform is a secure Internet based application that permits party members to vote on proposals presented in the Voting Platform.
- The party Constitution sets out the participation rights of members, the role of the Management Committee, and the roles of Democratic Reform Alliance politicians (who are delegates of the Management Committee);
- The Management Committee is elected by the membership and manages the organisation, the day to day political agenda of the party, and the Voting Platform;
- The Voting Platform allows Democratic Reform Alliance members to vote on-line in internal party plebiscites, and after the party has representatives in the Parliament, to vote on legislation before the Parliament;
- Democratic Reform Alliance politicians (delegates) are obliged to vote in Parliament in the manner directed by the Management Committee based on the results of members’ ballots
The Constitution of the Democratic Reform Alliance gives its Management Committee the power to seek the binding or non-binding views of the party membership on legislation before the Parliament. The proposals put by the Management Committee are to be compliant with the principles and Constitution of the party. Not all issues or legislation need to be put to the membership, and in some cases it could be put to be binding or non-binding on the delegates.
Legislation will be summarised both in a policy and technical sense but the core information presented to party members will be an analysis of the provenance of the money that went towards securing the particular policy outcome the Government is seeking.
Example 1: Off-shore Detention
If, for example, the off shore detention program requires the expenditure of hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars on contractors, then the identity of the corporations and its shareholders, the terms of those contracts, whether those organisations or shareholders have donated to the major political parties, the lobbying strategies the companies have deployed, and the relationships that exist between the corporations and individual politicians are of major interest to Democratic Reform Alliance.
For example, if legislation is introduced into Parliament, or a legislative instrument laid before the Parliament, authorising the payment of $385 million over the next 12 months to a Liberal Party donor to provide “garrison” and welfare services to thousands of refugees on Nauru, then Democratic Reform Alliance members could either vote on the basis of the policy (I support / disagree with the detention of a thousand people on Nauru to stop the boats) or could vote based on whether they approve the flow of money to a Liberal Party donor (ie. I resent that my taxes are being paid without any transparency or public accountability to a donor to the Liberal Party).
Example 2: Food Standards
The same focus would be brought to all legislation and legislative permissions before the Parliament.
For example, in relation to food standards, members could vote, if they wanted, on the policy (I like the new Food Standards legislation therefore I vote for it) but could also vote based on whether they approve of the money politics behind the legislation.
For example, I resent the food industry donated $400,000 to the Liberal Party and $250,000 to the Australian Labor Party and spent undeclared amounts of money paying lobbyists to offer unknown inducements to individual members of the major parties to secure this outcome, and I vote against it.
Follow the money
In essence, the Voting Platform reflects the Democratic Reform Alliance’s intention to change the focus of political discourse away from the substantive issue (do we invade China) to the politics of the decision (who is funding the politicians who are proposing we invade China). The Voting Platform seeks the views of party members, but it does not do so in a vacuum but by carefully presenting a transparency oriented view of the legislation to party members.
The right to vote on legislation before the Parliament requires the Democratic Reform Alliance to win sufficient votes in the campaign phase to have its candidates elected. Prior to this, Democratic Reform Alliance will allow party members to participate in polls, plebiscites, and express views on legislation before the Parliament using the Voting Platform.
For more detail about the Voting Platform see the Voting Platform page.