I know little about Australian politics. But I think it’s similar to politics elsewhere- it was never designed.
In general, representative democracies are dependent on representatives (people who know what constituents want) being accountable (serving constituents, reporting to them and being judged by them.)
The main component here is “accountability” which is a relationship. Actually, there are two important relationships, the one between the politician and the voters, and the one(s) between each voter and all voters together.
Relationships require communication. We don’t have a communication system that supports either of these, and we’ve never designed one (until now- see below).
Without a designed system, poor substitutes have cropped up. Polls are the only way we know what voters want, but polls ask surprised, uninformed people who feel little responsibility to answer well and are given no time to think, ask others or learn. Plus they’re expensive, infrequent and often miss important issues and solutions. Plus, most voters don’t learn of the results.
If you want to keep tabs on your representative on an issues, it’s difficult- they don’t report on each issue, regularly. You must depend on news or guess what their reported votes on bills mean. You can judge your representative, but no one will see your judgement and you won’t be able to find others’.
The only bit of accountability we have is that voters “can” elect someone new. Due to the inefficiency of political communication in general, voters are often poorly informed. Plus it make campaigns very expensive and difficult, so good people often can’t afford to run, or to run an effective campaign.
PeopleCount (peoplecount.org/how.htm) has focused on this and has designed a solution- a political communication system that allows:
- people to communicate with each other about what they want for their future
- to communicate with their politicians about what they want
- to allow politicians (incumbents as well as challengers) to communicate with voters on the issues important to them
- to allow voters to judge these reports
- to allow voters to share their judgements so they can effectively act together in the next election.
None of this requires new laws or a change to existing institutions, though with its use, much will change.
There are many more details and once people see that it can work, they have many valid concerns.
PeopleCount is a California benefit corporation (for the benefit of society), but it’s early and that is flexible. PeopleCount wants to finish the first version of its software, show it can work and then begin the process of moving issue management for a given government into a public group controlled by its constituents.
PeopleCount’s solution is not “direct democracy” nor “liquid democracy.” It’s a way to make representative democracy be representative and accountable. It does not force elected officials to do what the majority wants- it DOES put pressure on them to be accountable. And the main part of accountability is answering the people.
Note that PeopleCount is NOT funded, so is making progress slowly. It is mostly just me, Rand Strauss, and I’m happy to work with you. Note this is NOT an open source project, but it could be similar.