Australians voted for climate and integrity

May 2022

Our response to the federal election results

On Saturday, Australians sent a clear message to our leaders: it’s time to take action to protect our planet and our democracy.

Voters overwhelmingly supported candidates who ran on a platform of integrity reform and climate action. The previous government has faced a reckoning and we’ve seen huge wins for community candidates promising a better, fairer democracy.

This new parliament provides a once in a generation opportunity for our movements to end the grip that the fossil fuels industry has on our democracy, and claim it back for ourselves. With a strong mandate from voters and an ambitious crossbench, this is a moment we can achieve the strong democratic reforms that we’ve been calling for in the Framework for a Fair Democracy.

The incoming Labor government have committed to legislating a strong federal anti-corruption commission by the end of this year and we’ll be holding them to account on that promise – but importantly, we’ll also be working toward deeper reforms to end corporate capture and build a democracy that works for everyone.

The change we seek is big. The solutions are clear. While Saturday’s results present a significant opportunity, the reforms our democracy needs won’t always be in the interests of those who hold power. So we know we’ll have to work for every step toward our ambitious change agenda.

Together, we’ve worked hard to get integrity reform on the front page. And together, we will continue to build a movement for a fair democracy – one that puts people and the planet at the heart of decision making.

This year already, thousands of you have taken action for integrity reform, by taking and sharing our community survey, emailing or visiting your MP, and speaking out via letters to the editor and on social media. Together we’ve made a huge splash and we’re just getting started!

To build this shared vision for a strong and healthy democracy, we’ll need all the support we can get. If you’re in a position to, amplify our collective voice for political integrity by donating today.

Watch this space – we’re looking forward to bringing our community together soon to work on a shared strategy to stamp out corruption, end cash for access, and level the playing field in election debates.

Let’s get to work.

The results from Australia’s biggest ever integrity survey go live

April 2022

Read full media release: Australians support reforms to improve our political integrity

The #OurDemocracy campaign has released the results of a significant survey of the Australian community, with 10,375 Australians from every Federal electorate sharing their views on key reforms to improve the integrity of Australian democracy. The community-run survey found that a Federal Integrity Commission, political donations reform and laws requiring truth in political advertising all attracted more than 95% support.

A federal Integrity commission has long been promised but never delivered. This survey found that 96.7% of Australians surveyed agree or strongly agree that the Government should establish a federal corruption watchdog. 

“Whoever forms government after the election will have a strong mandate to make a robust, federal integrity commission a legislative priority” said Saffron Zomer, Executive Director, Australian Democracy Network

Australians also want transparency on who is donating to political parties (98.5% agree or strongly agree) and which professional lobbyists they’re meeting with (96.1% agree or strongly agree). 

“Australians know that for as long as political donations and professional lobbying are kept secret, we can’t be sure that politicians are representing us, not big industry” said Alice Drury, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.

The survey also found that 98.1% of Australians surveyed agree or strongly agree that we should have truth in political advertising laws to stop politicians and campaigners knowingly lying to voters in elections. 

“In an age of disinformation Australians expect our politicians to tell the truth – which should serve as a warning to any politician or party contemplating misleading campaigns during the election” said Saffron Zomer

“Gathering the results of this survey has been a huge community engagement exercise in itself, with hundreds of community members letterboxing, talking to fellow residents in town centres, and engaging their neighbours in what they want to see to improve Australian Democracy” said Jolene Elberth, Democracy Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation

The full survey report is available at www.ourdemocracy.com.au/survey

Civil society statement on electoral disinformation

May 2022

Disinformation in elections – Policy vision

When public debate is informed by facts and trustworthy sources, our democracy thrives. But right now, reasoned factual debate is being displaced by disinformation, and this shift is fundamentally eroding our democracy.

With the federal election less than six weeks away, 16 community, human rights and religious groups have joined forces to call on all candidates to refrain from misleading voters and commit to reforms to stop the spread of disinformation, which plagued the 2019 federal election and only became worse during the bushfires and the pandemic.

The organisations, including #OurDemocracy partners Australian Democracy Network and Human Rights Law Centre, have released a policy vision, outlining three key pledges we are urging politicians to make:

  • To campaign honestly
  • To commit to meaningful reforms to stop disinformation, and
  • To develop laws to limit the spread of disinformation

Our Framework for a Fair Democracy calls for the introduction of standards of honesty in election campaigns. Currently, there are no laws that stop lying in political advertising: this must be fixed to rebuild trust in the political process.

Read the full policy vision and see the list of supporting organisations here.

Distorting influence of big corporations in politics must end

May 2021

Read full media release

Twenty human rights, environment and health organisations are calling for both major parties to support law reform that would hold politicians to a higher standard of integrity and reduce the distorting influence big industries have in Australian politics.

The integrity reforms in the Framework for a Fair Democracy, which the groups are rallying behind, include a code of conduct for politicians; making lobbying and political donations transparent; banning big, corrupting political donations altogether; and stopping outgoing Ministers from taking up jobs in the industries they regulated.

The call for pro-democracy legislation forms the heart of the new #OurDemocracy campaign, launched today by the Human Rights Law Centre, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Democracy Network, and formally endorsed by 17 other organisations.

Human Rights Law Centre, Senior Lawyer, Alice Drury:

“Our democracy works best when the government puts the best interests of people, our communities and our planet at the heart of every decision.

“But right now that isn’t happening and harmful industries like gambling and fossil fuels are skewing our democratic processes to win political outcomes that put their profits ahead of our wellbeing. The people who are suffering the most from the status quo are already disadvantaged — the families torn apart by gambling addiction, and the communities who lost entire towns in unprecedented bushfires fuelled by climate change.  

“Despite all the promises, in last week’s federal Budget there was no funding allocated for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. So it’s clear we can’t just sit back and hope these problems fix themselves – we need to come together and demand these solutions be made into law.”

“The #OurDemocracy campaign is about resetting the rules of politics to make it fairer, more open, and more accountable to all of us.”

Australian Conservation Foundation’s Economy and Democracy Program Manager, Matt Rose: 

“ACF is a part of the #OurDemocracy campaign because government decisions are not being made in the interests of the community and the planet, but for vested interests, such as the fossil fuel industry. Civil society groups that work on issues such gambling, obesity and gun reform face similar issues because of the way our democratic processes work. This makes people feel let down and excluded from our democracy.” 

“Our organisations have come together to make our democracy fairer and more transparent by speaking together and helping people reclaim their role in our democracy.” 

Australian Democracy Network, Director, Saffron Zomer:

“Twenty civil society groups have come together to support this vision for a fair democracy because they know making #OurDemocracy the best it can be is good for their work, their members and all Australians.”

“The #OurDemocracy campaign, launched today, will be building public support over the coming months until our elected representatives see the opportunity to pass these sensible reforms.” 

For more information go to www.ourdemocracy.com.au and follow @OurDemocracyAU