Election 2022: The reforms our democracy needs

Si Gladman / 29 April 2022

For this federal election, our primary hope is to see that successful political candidates will pursue the reforms that are sorely needed to restore the Australian public’s trust in this country’s democratic institutions.

Today, we at the Rationalist Society of Australia announce the addition to our platform of two key policies that we believe will go some way towards improving Australia’s democracy and ensuring good governance that is transparent and accountable.

These policies are: Integrity in government and Truth in political advertising

Integrity in government 

RSA supports policies that improve accountability and transparency of governments in Australia. At the federal level, we support the establishment of an integrity commission with sufficient powers to remove corruption from politics and governance, and to help restore public confidence in our institutions of government and therefore our democracy.

Truth in political advertising

RSA supports laws prohibiting deceptive and misleading advertising in the political arena. While there should be a robust contest of ideas, lies and deception should not be part of Australian political discourse. Deceptive and misleading political advertising should be prohibited similarly to how deceptive and misleading advertising is prohibited in the commercial arena. All Australian jurisdictions should enact ‘truth in political advertising’ laws.

We will promote reform in these areas throughout our community and we will lobby political actors of all stripes – the major parties, minor parties, crossbenchers and independents – to support these policies.

We have also adopted a third new policy – Valuing science:

Valuing science

RSA supports policies that boost scientific research and innovation. We’d like to see Australian research institutions become world leaders for scientific breakthroughs and for attracting and developing the best minds in all kinds of fields. We need policies and associated funding to prevent ‘brain drain’ of our own talent to overseas research institutes. We need to increase investment in R&D. Government funding of research must be managed independently and free of interference.

You can find out more about what we will be doing in regards to these policies on the ‘campaign’ pages on our website:

Announcing these new policies, RSA president Dr Meredith Doig said they strengthen and further the RSA’s longstanding promotion of the use of evidence and reason when seeking solutions to issues that confront us in public life; and the defence of liberal democracy, freedom of thought, conscience and belief, and an open and just society.

“We believe these reforms are crucial for our democracy. If, through our advocacy and lobbying work, the Rationalist Society of Australia can help achieve reform in these policy areas, our country will be the better for it,” she said. 

“Anyone who agrees can help us in this work by signing up as a member of the RSA or by making a donation. Every membership purchased and every dollar given helps us make an impact.

“You can also raise these issues in discussions with your local MP or state or territory senator. It’s important they hear from our members and supporters on how important these reforms are.”   

The RSA also wants to see this federal election deliver strong backing for funding of our public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, and a firm commitment to wind back federal laws that prevent the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory from legalising voluntary assisted dying.

We’ll have more to say about these policies in coming days, along with the secular reforms we’ll continue to advocate for in the next term of parliament.

If you want to support our work, please make a donation or become a member.

Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at sigladman@rationalist.com.au or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman

Photo by Kylie De Guia on Unsplash.

All the more reason.