Monday, 20 September 2010

Kenneth Davidson says to get open government in Victoria we have to elect Greens to the lower house

Kenneth Davidson has come out to-day saying that Greens need to be elected to the lower house at the state election to be held on November 24.

"The Victorian Parliament needs open government. Realistically, this will only happen if the two-party system is replaced by minority government, as has occurred in Tasmania, Britain and now Canberra.

In Victoria, this means that enough Greens must be elected in the lower house to hold the balance of power - which is possible if the voting patterns in the state election follow the federal pattern in the inner suburbs."

While there is still three months to decide on voting, I know that the sort of accountability Ken wants to see guided my vote in the recent Federal election.

I don't think for one minute that The Greens are a you-beaut rescue team to save us from bad policy decisions.  

The Greens are untried - and I think that includes the Tasmanian experience (because their last involvement in minority government was quite a while ago)  as well as the Federal experience.  I do think, though, it is high time The Greens had the wood put on them to deliver in  terms of responsible and accountable government.  We can then see if they are really worth our vote - or whether we face the alternative of putting up with the two majors or finding some yet unknown way out of the bad policy impasse.

I believe that community engagement needs to be treated seriously by all parties - real, modern, professional, whole of government community engagement.  The Brumby Government has failed on this necessary and vital part of the modern democratic process.
The majority of those who will lose their homes in the Footscray rail development were not advised - and Brumby blithely said he believed they had.  Then a week later, Brumby went off to Callignee, scene of severe and deadly bushfires in February 2009.  Again Brumby was found out.  No consultation nor community engagement.  
There is no satisfactory community engagement because the Brumby Government does not take such engagement seriously, let alone conduct it professionally.  There is no whole of government policy on community engagement nor its implementation. No up-to-date professional approach to community engagement is in practice. 

I was at a community engagement conference some months ago where one of the speakers was a senior manager in the Planning Dept.  I hope never to hear this man speak at such a conference ever again - except as an object lesson in what not to do.  And I suppose this department thinks it practices community engagement.  Well, do I have news for it!

And then there is the subject of social benchmarking.  I am not convinced that the Victorian Government has sufficient knowledge of communities who are facing the brunt of its decision-making.  

I had a to and fro of correspondence with the Department of Sustainability and Environment and, when I couldn't get a direct and intelligible response from it on whether they carried out social benchmarking, my local Labor member's office.  

The result is that this lot - whose natural resource management decisions impact so greatly on communities - does not understand what social benchmarking is.  I kept getting referred to Environmental Impact Statements which have nothing to do with Social Benchmarking.  Again, no whole of government policy on social benchmarking of communities.

It appears that the Brumby Government does not want to engage with Victorian communities nor does it wish to learn much about those communities either.  

Now, I mention the Brumby Government but I have no reason to believe that things will be better under a Liberal/National Party Government.  Remember the last time the Libs were in under Kennett?  How more anti-community could a government get?

One could go on about other topics on which engagement has been poor to non-existent.  As well, I could explain why I think calling for written community responses to white and draft papers is an unsatisfactory way of establishing community attitudes as well.  

Let' s just put a big red line across the Brumby Government's report card and tell them they just don't get it ... but if they want our vote, and our confidence in their ability to govern, then they had better get some knowledge and demonstrate it very quickly.

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