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Fixing a Broken System - Practical Trajectories Beyond Representative Democracy

This content is from a post written by former Gabba Ward Councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan on 1st January 2024. 


In 2021, I published an article called "Fixing a Broken System - Practical Trajectories Beyond Representative Democracy" in the 2021 edition of the journal Pandora's Box (Vol 27), published by the Justice and the Law Society at the University of Queensland.

The PDF of this article can be downloaded via this link.

Article abstract:

From the perspective of a serving local politician, this article looks at the flaws of hierarchical centralised decision-making within  representative democracy and suggests that shifting towards participatory democracy systems would lead to better outcomes for the environment and the general public. I reflect on our various local trials of decentralised decision-making processes within the Gabba Ward of Brisbane City Council, including forms of online community voting, participatory budgeting to allocate funding to local infrastructure projects, and participatory design workshops for public park upgrades. I highlight key lessons from our trials over the past five years and unpack some of the tensions between maximising participation via online direct democracy versus encouraging deeper deliberation via face-to-face engagement.