Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Australia21 needs your help

Australia 21 is a not-for-profit organisation which brings together diverse thinkers to develop ideas for Australia’s future, on policy areas ranging from climate change to drug law reform to euthanasia. Australia21 only tackles 'wicked problems'. These are complex problems that defy definition, resist all usual attempts to solve them, hardly ever sit conveniently within the responsibility of one organisation, and attempted solutions are thwarted by unforeseen consequences.

We have exciting plans for the future. But these plans are now at risk due to a lack of funding. So we would like to tell you a little bit about us and seek your help.

We believe that Australia 21 is uniquely placed to think about policy issues facing Australia in a way which goes beyond the populist consensus of the major political parties.
* What other organisation could bring together a former federal police commissioner, addiction specialists and former premiers to agree publicly that the war on drugs has failed and get them in the same room to discuss alternatives?
* What other organisation could gather palliative care workers, doctors, lawyers, former politicians and students to develop ideas about how we could regulate euthanasia in Australia, while also including opponents of euthanasia in the discussion?
We want to keep the conversation going – but we need your help. As well as plans for further developing the discussion on these valuable topics, Australia 21 is commencing a project about asylum seekers and a project about inequality in Australia, timely projects which are needed now more than ever.
If you believe in the work we do, if you have ever considered donating money to Australia 21, we would like to stress in the strongest possible terms that now is the time to do it.

Donations will be gratefully received at http://www.givenow.com.au/australia21

Friday, September 6, 2013

Transparency and accountability - back to basics

Nick Green concludes Australia21's series on young people's views on the election with a plea for truth in politics and a message for the incoming government. Nick  is a professional writer and magazine editor with an academic background in theoretical and practical ethics and a passion for all things mechanical and philosophical. He is currently editor of a B2B trade title and contributes to a host of automotive and youth culture oriented magazines and blogs. He was first attracted to volunteer with Australia21 through its work on illicit drugs policy.

The modern political paradigm, or at least the way in which Australians relate to it, has irrevocably changed as traditional modes of media adapt to incorporate new platforms and reporting methods. The advent of social media has dramatically altered the nature of the fourth estate and the immediacy and availability of all (including erroneous) information has created significant tension between government and citizen.

What matters in the 2013 election, as the prison doors swing shut behind Bradley Manning, the staff of the Sheremetyevo airport clean up after Edward Snowden’s uncomfortable internment and Ecuadorian diplomats based in the UK get used to stepping over Julian Assange’s fold out bed, is transparency and accountability.

Without denigrating the importance of policy consideration on issues like refugee boats, LBGTI rights, emissions trading, consumer sentiment or cost of living  – Australian politics needs to be chiseled back to the bare essentials. In an information saturated nation, it needs to develop a uniform way of communicating directly and truthfully with a politically alienated populace. Australians, and in particular younger generations, can no longer be influenced with spin and lowest common denominator headlines. The dissection of inconsequential gaffes and mudslinging must end, and a culture of bilateral respect, which governments require to govern, must be reinstated.  When asked a question by a member of the media, a politician should be required to provide a plain speaking, honest and transparent answer.

 The Australian people must be educated about the goals of good governance and the methods that a governing body needs to achieve them. Such understanding will help to reduce the blind contempt and mistrust that has taken over.  

 As political anhedonia settles over Australian youth and Baby Boomers steadily disengage from the news cycle, it is critical that clear, pragmatic and utilitarian communication become the priority of government. Open squabble over individual issues is the catalyst for apathy.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is youth based policy enough to re-engage young voters?

 Is youth based policy enough to re-engage 

young voters? 

Kathryn  Hedger is completing post graduate studies in the Criminology and Criminal Justice field. She says: "I decided to volunteer with Australia 21 in order to contribute to society by furthering the organisation's research surrounding social justice issues."    
 When we asked some of Australia21's  young volunteers to comment on the  2013 election agenda, Kathryn submitted this piece. 

 From listening to reports of the election campaign, it seems that our politicians think that the young voter has become disinterested in politics; so now we have Kevin Rudd attempting to re-engage the youth vote. But will an increased emphasis on youth-based policy be enough to re-engage the youth vote? 

From listening to Triple J’s ‘Hack’ program and my peers as well, it seems quite clear to me that this re-engagement (if in fact we  actually have ever been engaged rather than bored) will not suffice. Why? Because, and I quote; “they’re both clowns, there’s nothing separating them from each other”.

So with this thought in mind, what do I, as a young voter, think should matter and why?

Firstly, I would like to hear one of the major parties (excluding The Greens) say very loudly, and very clearly, that seeking asylum, by boat or plane, is not illegal. The moral panic that has been created by the media has, as usual, sunk into general perceptions and made its way into the 2013 Election. I find it deeply concerning that neither of the major parties has made a significant attempt to clarify misperception around asylum seekers coming to Australia.

Secondly, I would like to see policy discussion of de-criminalisation and regulation of illicit substances on the agenda. The ‘War on Drugs’ and ‘Tough on Drugs’ policy has been ongoing since its inception in the United States in the early 1970s. However, illicit substances remain widely available in the community until this day, costing our health care and criminal justice systems millions of dollars annually. Prohibition is very expensive. The new call for the de-criminalisation and regulation of illicit substances has gone global. It is about time that it entered the Australian political scene more broadly.

These are just two items on my agenda. I just hope that we begin to see  proper discussion of issues like this on the 2013 Election Agenda.