The Corruption of Australian Democracy

The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party are equally broken and no longer perform the roles they are required to play in a representative democracy.

The parties are awash in corporate and branded cash and are also generously funded by the state. They have become self-perpetuating creatures of the state they seek to govern.

What should political parties do?

Political parties are organisations of private members based in civil society seeking to mediate between civil society and the state. Their role is to represent a particular group of people and to convey the concerns of the electorate to the Parliament.

In theory each major party has a structure that is open to the involvement of ordinary people in selecting candidates and forming policy. Each party also has its party platform outlining what it stands for. Ordinary people are able to join the party and contribute to the formation of policy and the platform.

Based on this input the parties go to each election promising the Australian people it will deliver on the platform and policy should they vote for the party and win the election. The Australian electorate reviews the platform and promises on offer at each election, and vote.

The parties are the conveyor belt carrying the concerns of the electorate into Parliament and into government. Political parties are critical to the functioning of democracy.

How does it work in practice?

In practice party policy is no longer derived from the input of the membership but sourced by professional political elites through the work of state and corporate funded think tanks and professionally conducted surveys, focus groups, and opinion polls.

The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party are professionalised, bureaucratised and centralised, and electioneering and campaigning is prioritised over the participation rights of members.

To pay for their operations the parties have entrenched funding sources from corporate and brand donors and the state. Very little of the funding comes from real people, ordinary members of the party donating money to assist the work of the party.

Each time you vote for the Liberal Party of Australia or the Australian Labor Party the tax payer pays them for your vote. At the federal level the amount is $2.75 per vote with this rate is indexed every six months in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index.

In the Australian Capital Territory the parties pay themselves $8 a vote.

Failure of the major parties

In short the major parties receive millions of dollars in corporate and tax payer funding each election and very little of it is appropriately disclosed. The parties are owned by the corporate donors and subsidised by the tax payer.

Under current funding rules the major parties are paid not to care what you think. They do not want you to participate in Australian democracy and do not need your money.

The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party have become self-perpetuating creatures of the state they seek to govern, living off the funding of the corporations, the brands, and the state. They are no longer vehicles of mass political integration (if they ever were) or places for political education or local political participation.

The result

The result is that both major parties are out of touch with the views of the electorate. The work of the Parliament and public policy development has become divorced from the concerns of the electorate.

The policy and political practices of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party are disjunctive to their platforms and the parties consistently fail to deliver on the promises made during election campaigns.

The parties are supposed to be the conveyor belt carrying the concerns of the Australian people into the Parliament. They are critical to the functioning of the political system. The conveyor belt is broken. The party system is broken and there is a major a gulf between the expectations of the community and what the major parties are delivering.

People are alienated from politics for good reason and see the party system is corrupt and failing our democracy. This is not just a statement or complaint or talking point or a perception but an accurate and true description of reality.

People no longer see the relevance of belonging to an organisation called a political party that does not allow for political participation but kills political debate and participation.

This must change.


The Democratic Reform Alliance is a political party established to direct public dissatisfaction towards enhanced structures of accountability. The Democratic Reform Alliance has a Platform underpinned by a series of strategies that would allow it to restore representation to the Australian people.

We ask you to join us in delivering on the Mission of the Democratic Reform Alliance by voting for the Democratic Reform Alliance on Election Day.

Together we will deliver the positive changes Australians are looking for.

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- 09 January, 2019
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