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Two firsts and the greatest?

8 The US, Australia and India: two firsts and the greatest? This chapter examines the passage of three of the most influential pieces of FOI legislation: the world’s first modern law passed in the US in 1966, one of the first pieces of FOI legislation in a Westminster-style system in Australia in 1982 and the landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 in India. Symbolically, the three laws involved passing a powerful ‘right’ to the ‘people’ and a deepening of democracy, bound up in ‘transformative’ narratives. Each was a case of small groups inside and outside

in The politics of freedom of information

3 Australian foreign policy and the vernacular of national belonging Katie Linnane On 22 October 2014 a gunman opened fire on the Canadian National War Memorial and Houses of Parliament, killing a soldier on ceremonial duty and injuring three others. In expressing sympathy on behalf of all Australians, then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott (2013–15), announced: ‘today more than ever, Australians and Canadians are family’ (Wroe 2014). On the surface, such a statement of solidarity appeared both appropriate and unexceptional. In times of crisis or catastrophe

in The politics of identity

Football, diplomacy and Australia in the Asian century 147 8 Football, diplomacy and Australia in the Asian century David Rowe Admitting and expelling Australia? On the eve of the final of the 2015 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup final between host nation Australia and South Korea, the host city’s major newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, carried a story about a move among some of the west Asian (especially Gulf) nations to expel Australia from the Asian Football Confederation.1 For those among the hosts who believed that securing the event

in Sport and diplomacy

5 New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia Yet Gillard’s reinstatement of the centrality of markets leaves Labor with some dilemmas that Rudd’s trenchant critiques of neo-liberalism had  at  least sought to address. For, if there are no significant problems  with  relying on markets then why do we need social democratic parties? Carol Johnson, 2011 The New Social Democracy in Australia and Britain This chapter introduces four cases of the New Social Democracy in action. It describes the Australian roots of the NSD and ­reinforces the renewed

in The search for democratic renewal
The politics of consultation in Britain and Australia

This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), have sought to adapt to the modern era and effect changes. It identifies and examines a range of drivers for Labour's desire to experiment and find new forms of citizen engagement. Linked to the influence of the New Social Democracy (NSD) is the lingering legacy of the new public management (NPM) reforms implemented in the public sectors in both countries. For Labour, democratic renewal is an attempt to secure wider legitimacy in neoliberal settings; similarly, the NSD is also linked to the debates about the perceived shift from government to governance. The NSD has attempted to respond to these debates and in Britain a concerted effort has been made to reformulate the role of the state and, by extension, civil society. The book examines how far the NSD has influenced Labour governments in Britain and Australia. It establishes Labour's interest in democratic renewal, specifically, the role of political participation and civic engagement in the wider context of democratic theory. Given that the NSD calls for an 'active citizenry', this is important. A central motif of democratic theory is an ambivalence about the role of political participation in a modern liberal democratic polity. The book explores how far New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia have been successful in seeking to link new forms of public dialogue to existing democratic decision-making processes in the modern western world.

7 Engagement at the regional level The fallacy of expertise bedevils public policy. Mark Bevir, 2010 ‘Strategic Labor government’ at the regional level National-level Labour governments in both Britain and Australia are amongst a number of centre-left governments rediscovering an interest in democratic renewal. As we saw in the previous chapter, both parties remain formally committed to this agenda of democratic innovation, and their own consultative experiments, despite a number of significant flaws, reveal an appetite for engagement and renewal. The search

in The search for democratic renewal
Continuity and change

4 Political participation: continuity and change Not only is it the case that the vast majority of citizens are at best ­marginally engaged in civic or political activism, it is also far from clear how even a broader base of participation beyond elections and political parties could help address the decline of representative democracy. Wilks-Heeg, Blick and Crone, 2012 The changing patterns of political participation and support Political participation is part of a dynamic process of exchange between the citizen and the state. In Britain and Australia, as in

in The search for democratic renewal
How and why governments pass laws that threaten their power

Why do governments pass freedom of information laws? The symbolic power and force surrounding FOI makes it appealing as an electoral promise but hard to disengage from once in power. However, behind closed doors compromises and manoeuvres ensure that bold policies are seriously weakened before they reach the statute book.

The politics of freedom of information examines how Tony Blair's government proposed a radical FOI law only to back down in fear of what it would do. But FOI survived, in part due to the government's reluctance to be seen to reject a law that spoke of 'freedom', 'information' and 'rights'. After comparing the British experience with the difficult development of FOI in Australia, India and the United States – and the rather different cases of Ireland and New Zealand – the book concludes by looking at how the disruptive, dynamic and democratic effects of FOI laws continue to cause controversy once in operation.

Abstract only

inherent inequalities of capitalism. Yet a survey of Donald Sassoon’s opus, One Hundred Years of Socialism, indicates that perhaps a better claim for the defining trait of the centre-left is revision and change. As Sassoon reminds us, labour and socialist political parties are constantly ­undergoing periods of renewal and reinvention. Indeed, revision could be a defining ­characteristic of many centre-left political parties. This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties – the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) – have sought to

in The search for democratic renewal

2 Labour, democratic renewal and the New Social Democracy In Britain and Australia, Labour governments have been ­experimenting with democratic renewal. Democratic renewal includes a range of diverse activities, processes and mechanisms and can include constitutional reform, increasing the transparency of government d ­ ecision-making, activating new forms of civic engagement and introducing new spaces for public debate. This book looks at one strand of this search for democratic renewal: a growing willingness by Labour ­ governments to introduce new mechanisms

in The search for democratic renewal