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Episodes 40, 41, 42 & 43: Saving Australian democracy and sovereignty by building a new Constitution - An essay in four parts by Bronwyn Kelly.
Introduction from Bronwyn Kelly:
Subscribers familiar with my writing will be aware of my most recent book, The People’s Constitution: the path to empowerment of Australians in a 21st century democracy. I’d like to thank readers for their positive comments. But now it is time to think about how we might begin to make a people’s constitution a reality.
In this and my next three posts on the Australia Together Podcast I’ll be reading a new major essay which builds on much of the research in The People’s Constitution, taking it to the next step. The essay sets out a practical way forward for the making of a new Constitution by the collaboration of Australians. I suggest in the essay that if we learn how to do this well as a nation - and we can - then we can rescue our democracy and sovereignty, both of which are very much at risk of loss at the moment.
It will not be surprising that the new type of Constitution I’m proposing is one which gives a reasonable share of power to a party in our democracy who currently has none – the people. But to establish some practical ways of achieving progress towards that, I pose four questions in this essay and I’ll suggest answers over the next four episodes of the Podcast. The questions are:
Why does Australia need a new Constitution? (Part 1, Episode 40)
What’s wrong with our democracy? (Part 2, Episode 41)
How can Australians take back their democracy and sovereignty? (Part 3, Episode 42)
How can Australians achieve a peaceful coexistence of sovereignties and self-determining political equals? (Part 4, Episode 43)
At the outset, it is worth noting that the answer to the last two questions is the same: the answer to how we can take back our democracy and sovereignty and achieve a peaceful coexistence of sovereignties and self-determining political equals is for the people of Australia to establish what I call “non-exclusive terms of trust” with the parliaments they elect. This will need to be done by mounting what in other writing I’ve called a National Collaborative Process for the Development of a New Australian Constitution. This is a process that should be run by the people of Australia, independent of politics. The function of this essay is to help develop an understanding of:
the sorts of statements we will need to include in these terms of trust; and
how any and all Australians can become involved in the process of specifying them.
Listeners will note that the essay starts from a premise that Australians may well have already lost control over the one power they had under the Constitution – the power to choose who shall govern them. It is likely that this premise will be disputed, particularly by Australia’s two major political parties, although I cite substantial evidence for it. But disputes about it do not detract from the need to reverse or at least stem the loss, and on this basis I have suggested in the essay that the most urgent questions of our times are:
How do we wrest back control over the choice of who governs us and how do we establish some control over what they may rightly do with power?
If we answer these questions well, we can save our democracy and put the nation on a path to achievement of a peaceful coexistence of cultures, self-determining political equals, and sovereignties in a post-colonial world.
I hope you enjoy the discussion.
What’s in this Episode?
In Episode 40 I read Part 1 of the essay on Saving Australian Democracy and Sovereignty by Building a New Constitution. I ask,
Why does Australia need a new Constitution? The short answer is: to save our democracy and sovereignty.
Full transcript of this series on Saving Australian Democracy and Sovereignty by Building a New Constitution
Click here for a full transcript of Episodes 40, 41, 42 and 43 on Saving Australian Democracy and Sovereignty by Building a New Constitution.
Or find the transcript at the ACFP website at www.austcfp.com.au/major-essays
What is ACFP doing to help Australians make a new Constitution?
A major theme within this essay is the need to develop what I’ve called “non-exclusive terms of trust” that Australians can issue to those they elect to parliament. These terms should be designed by Australians so as to specify the purpose for which we wish to come together and stay together as a nation. They should amount to a statement of the national “purpose”, or “project” and as such ideally should encompass a statements that:
affirm our most sincerely held values as an indissoluble commonwealth (the values that hold us together and define what we stand for as a nation);
enshrine all our human rights as equals;
transparently set out the government’s obligations to the people in observance of those rights; and
provide a guarantee that any and all of us shall be able to have a voice in how the nation should chart a course to a better future.
Australian Community Futures Planning (ACFP) is conducting practical experiments with integrated planning and community engagement processes that can help Australians collaborate to build these terms of trust. These trials have the potential to help Australians and those they elect to rise above politics and evade the uncertainties of the majoritarian democratic exclusion we currently reinforce by confining ourselves to casting votes in elections without specifying terms of trust for those who attain parliamentary and governmental power. If Australians can establish a process for development of non-exclusive terms of trust with those they elect, then there is also potential to release the elected from their servitude to corporate or external powers. Everyone will be better off, particularly the well-intentioned politicians.
To become involved in planning a better future for Australia, visit the ACFP website at https://www.austcfp.com.au/become-involved. Everyone is welcome to participate.
Want to know more about a People’s Constitution?
The People’s Constitution: the path to empowerment of Australians in a 21st century democracy is available in paperback here and on Kindle here. Or click on the picture below. Or visit the Australian Community Futures Planning website to purchase The People’s Constitution at https://www.austcfp.com.au/publications
Listen to the full reading of The People’s Constitution on Apple Podcast
A full reading of The People’s Constitution: the path to empowerment of Australians in a 21st century democracy is available in Episodes 1 to 35 in The Australia Together Podcast here.
Chapter headings of The People’s Constitution
Chapter 1: The limits of Australia’s representative democracy
Chapter 2: Setting a path to power for the people
Chapter 3: Finding a place to start
Chapter 4: Essentials for a new start as a nation
Chapter 5: Essential No. 1 – Building a statement of Australian national values
Chapter 6: Essential No. 2 – Enshrinement of human rights and obligations in an Australian people’s constitution
Chapter 7: Essential No. 3 – A process for expression on the Australian people’s national voice
Chapter 8: Essential No. 4 – Priority constitutional amendments for an inclusive democracy
Chapter 9: Processes for engagement on and adoption of The Australian People’
Chapter 10: The possibilities of a new democracy under a people’s constitution