Articles on Accountability

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The new Australian Border Force conforms to the national security paradigm of combining maximum power with maximum secrecy. AAP/Lukas Coch

The Australian Border Force puts the final nail in transparency’s coffin

The Australian Border Force is the culmination of the move towards militarised border security. This commenced in earnest with the introduction of Operation Sovereign Borders in September 2013.
The Abbott government has hid asylum policy behind ‘operational matters’ since it took office – starting with then-immigration minister Scott Morrison in 2013. AAP/Paul Miller

Boats secrecy leads to bad policy without democratic accountability

The withholding of information about government actions in asylum seeker policy undermines its democratic accountability to the Australian people.
Tony Abbott opens the campaign office for Liberal candidate Ken Wyatt in 2010. Now he and all incumbent MPs enjoy a $300,000 advantage over their challengers at the next election. AAP/Dean Lewins

Budget’s $45m slush fund for MPs is an unethical use of public money

'Better Communities' funding is supposedly non-partisan: every electorate gets $300,000 for local projects. But only incumbent MPs have a say in this spending and 60% of them are government members.
Notions of the ‘right to know’ forced Hillary Clinton to defend her use of a private email account as secretary of state - a far cry from the days when citizens didn’t even know how their representatives voted. EPA/Andrew Gombert

The right to know vs the need for secrecy: the US experience

The idea of the right to know as the 'lifeblood of democracy' is a surprisingly modern development. And in an age when transparency is prized, privacy and secrecy can still be justified in many cases.
In the Anthropocene, human-driven forces are shaping the planet in ways that may risk the collapse of human civilisation. Damián Bakarcic/flickr

Anthropocene raises risks of Earth without democracy and without us

The Anthropocene, as an epoch of human-driven planetary change, poses huge environmental and political problems. But it could also force us to develop proper ecological and democratic accountability.
John Howard sealed his fate by going too far with WorkChoices, but he got the balance right and succeeded with the GST reform. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Why not listen to the people for a solution to the reform stalemate?

The distinction between the global and the local is collapsing under the pressure of climate change, economic restructuring, global migration and jihadism on the one hand and the populist and information…
Recent surveys have highlighted a deeper malaise in the public’s faith in its core institutions and leaders. AAP/Lukas Coch

What can governments and leaders do when trust evaporates?

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer points to an “evaporation of trust” in institutions and leaders worldwide. The annual survey finds a decline in trust overall, with more countries classified as distrusting…
Daniel Andrews and his ministers swear an oath to comply with the law, which includes the obligations of public office as a public trust. AAP/Julian Smith

Politicians forget what public trust means – we must remind them

There cannot be a more important office or more challenging role than being a member of parliament. This is especially so for government MPs and ministers, including the newly elected Victorian ministry…
What are we voting for? Certainly not decisions made in MPs’ own interest or that of political parties or business cronies, but the present system lets that happen. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

It’s hard for voters to trust leaders who won’t promise true integrity

The Accountability Round Table (ART), a non-partisan organisation, wrote to the three major political parties two months ago seeking their position on three important arms of Victoria’s integrity system…
“Who do you trust?” has become a common mantra in Australian politics. Our political leaders should do much more to stop the answer being “no one”. AAP Image/Julian Smith

How to restore trust in politics after the Victorian election

A fundamental lack of trust is at the heart of Australian politicians’ extremely poor reputation. It is the main reason why people’s opinions about their elected representatives have mutated from healthy…
‘Freedom of religion’ does not provide a church with any more or less accountability for its actions than a trucking company. AAP/Shepparton News/Verity Lewis

Principles of accountability apply to churches and truckers alike

Some religious groups are feeling under attack. They claim their “freedom of religion” is being impaired. For example, federal Attorney-General George Brandis, speaking to the Law School of Notre Dame…
A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. shutterstock

Lifting the veil on the crisis in Victoria’s prisons

Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer’s report on deaths and harm in Victorian prisons may have largely sailed under the public radar, but it shines a rare spotlight on the levels of systemic harm in custody…

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