“Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy.” – Michael Moore

Have you heard of the voices of movement?

Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

It is an inspiring, grassroots, political movement seeking to select, support and elect moderate independents in upcoming elections. Inspired by the voices for Indi campaign, that saw the successful election of Cathy McGowan in the safe Liberal seat of Indi in 2013 and the election of her successor Helen Haines in 2019. The voices movement is attempting to give voice to dissatisfied moderates and communities that feel let down by the major parties.

It is hardly surprising that we are seeing the rise of empowered, grassroots campaigns, our traditional parties have largely been failing to meet the challenges of our changing world dynamics on multiple fronts. The Greens, while an important dissenting voice in our parliamentary process are often seen as too radical for the moderate centre of Australia but many people have become disillusioned by the self-interest and failure to act in public best interest by some of our mainstream political representatives.

Check out this piece on the movement on the ABC site: Growing dissatisfaction with federal politics sees Coalition seats under threat from independents The seat I live in, is mentioned in the piece, one of the safest liberal party seats in Australia; Groom. And yes we have a Voices of Groom group, who have recently selected their candidate to run against the Liberal party incumbent. I gather the selection process was rigorous, with a shortlist of strong potential candidates but the eventual choice has been made and it is Suzie Holt. 

Unsurprisingly, the voices movement seems to contain a lot of talented women, lets hope that fact contributes to a more civil debate and discussion of differences, than what we are used to in the political arena. I have to say I like the idea of improving our society by one quiet, respectful conversation at a time. I have no direct involvement with the Voices movement but I am certainly watching it with interest.

Recently the ABC screened the documentary The Big Deal which examines the lobbying industry in Australia. (It is still available on ABC iview). If you have not seen it I can highly recommend taking the time to view it. I must admit to finding the first part depressing in what it exposes about our democracy, sadly also not surprising. The concluding parts of the doco give hope, with the focus on the experience in Indi and the rise of these kinds of grassroots, kitchen table movements. The Big Deal itself is associated with the Our Democracy campaign.

Our next federal election is just around the corner, it is worth considering whether our current politicians are meeting the needs of our communities in this rapidly changing and challenging environment or simply selling out to the highest bidder.

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