When should our elected governments break political conventions?

Australia still follows Westminster in allowing key principles of democratic accountability to operate according to convention.

This article in the Conversation by Richard Mulgan, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University is worth a read: if you’re interested in the political process that is meant to deliver personal, community and social flourishing, as far as it can, for all Australians and their families.

If you read it, commend Richard in the comments for his contribution to an important conversation.

Some highlights for me…

“The United Kingdom has no formal constitution but relies on conventions to define some of its most fundamental constitutional principles. These include the democratic principles that elected governments should be accountable to their citizens and respect their rights.” (How would this be secured if we forfeited this accountability if, or when, we become a Republic?)

“Though the Australian Commonwealth has a formal constitution as part of its federal settlement with the states, it still follows Westminster in allowing key principles of democratic accountability to operate according to convention.”

“In general, the political left has tended to be in favour of strict observance of constitutional conventions as a matter of independent principle. The political right, though also respectful of established conventions, has shown itself less squeamish about breaking conventions in the name of the national interest as defined by the government of the day.” (Should there a more clearly defined parameter to ensure that the government is accountable to the people and respects their rights?)

“Ministers are expected to take the blame for actions for which they are personally responsible, but not for those that are clearly the fault of officials. Oppositions – and commentators – commonly claim ministers should resign both for their own mistakes and for those of their officials, but this has never been accepted practice.”

If this perks your interest for action, read on!



About Bob Simpson

Bob is project manager of The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP). He believes that ethical and independent journalists are vital to the continuing freedom of Australian citizens. You could argue that In recent decades media organisations have subtly subverted journalism to their own private commercial interests, and away from an integrated sense of fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australian society, especially for the disempowered. AMEP aims to change general media narratives towards greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australia.
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