Welcome to Online Direct Democracy - from the founder of the Party
I am sure that many people have contemplated a concept such as Online Direct Democracy. An ability for the majority view to be clearly heard above that of the vocal minority, not influenced by party politics or by deal doing.
I am fortunate that I have had the time to develop the concept. I hope that it will provide an easy access to accurate information and balanced argument and will make our Government a little more progressive and a little more inclusive.
A minority group should not dictate the way the majority chooses to live.
About twenty years ago a euthanasia bill was presented to the Northern Territory Parliament. The bill was derailed and defeated by what was probably a minority view. I do not believe that a minority group should dictate the way the majority chooses to live.
In 2006 I became interested in two issues.
Firstly why do imported 4WD vehicles attract less tax/tariffs than other passenger cars? Given the safety and environmental concerns surrounding these vehicles were the reasons for lower tax/tariffs still relevant?
The second issue is why the government was paying a rebate for the production of biodiesel? As I understand it, our government paid around $50 million a year to a company in the Northern Territory producing biodiesel from Indonesian palm oil. The Indonesian Minister for Agriculture, Anton Apriyantono, announced on 27 January 2006 that his government planned to develop three million hectares of palm oil plantations over the next five years ‘to meet increasing demand for biofuel as an alternative source of energy’. By subsidising the production of biodiesel from palm oil, I believe our government was using taxpayers’ money to encourage the destruction of rainforest in an economically vulnerable country.
When I was seeking more information about both of these issues:
- I had great difficulty finding accurate information and I wrote letters to many in both the media and politics but failed to raise any interest.
- I began to appreciate how difficult it was to get accurate information and even how futile it was trying to make change.
I appreciate that these issues may seem minor and even a little obscure compared with others facing our country, but they are issues, like any issues of the day, that contribute to the kind of society we are creating.
Accurate information and balanced argument - I wish!
Today there are many issues facing the Australian public where the outcome will affect how we shape our country.
It is difficult to get independent information on issues. By way of example, interest groups can lobby a cause by putting forward a biased view and questionable ‘facts’ about an issue. In the Australian newspaper on 21 March 2007, it was reported that during a campaign against water recycling in Brisbane 400,000 booklets were to be distributed, claiming treated effluent can cause testicular cancer, has the potential to kill, and quoted scientists saying it can cause infertility. Without accurate information and balanced argument we will not be able to reach the best decisions about matters facing our community.
I feel extremely frustrated that 'Jo(e) Public'’ has no real opportunity to access accurate information and balanced argument on issues facing the Australian people and, beyond voting at elections, has no direct input on the outcome of issues.
The internet has so much information; it is difficult to sift the facts from fiction and the relevant from the rubbish.
The internet will change politics.
I believe that the internet has great potential for democratic political systems, which should include:
- accurate information and balanced argument that is easily accessible and can be referred to on each bill and important issue confronting our society. This might be like the media preparing a detailed, unbiased and well-rounded report on an issue, except that the information will be more accessible and easy to refer to.
- giving the majority of our community a way to be informed and voice an opinion.
- tallying the votes and ensuring the majority view is clearly heard.
On a different note, I would like to share with you two public recognitions.
First is indicative that I have a passion for innovation and action.
In 1991 I identified a business opportunity and started a company named Leveraged Equities Limited which lent money against shares. Within two years Leveraged Equities had become the market leader in its sector.
My main focus, during the eleven years I was with and headed the company, was to ensure an innovative product and to develop a great team of staff who would deliver outstanding customer service.
A measure of achievement were comments by Macquarie Bank equities research team made in their ‘Regional Banks Account Number 3, July 2001’ report which noted “Leveraged Equities has an excellent reputation for product innovation... very strong brand awareness... ‘LE are generally believed to own the broker channel’ where they have a ‘clear number one’ market share... cleverly structured product”.
I was very proud of my team at Leveraged Equities, because it was as a team that we achieved this recognition.
The second indicates that sometimes I make bad decisions.
In 1999, the Government was selling down its stake in Telstra.
I falsely predicted that these shares would be good value and I decided that I should enthusiastically invest. I used what ASIC described as “a combination and permutation of family members at a number of addresses”. I used multiple applications, in line with what I wrongly believed to be the acceptable practice of many professional investors at the time.
In 2000, ASIC started an investigation concerned that the names “may have been contrived”. In Oct 2002, I entered an Enforceable Undertaking with ASIC, that prevented me acting as or holding a Dealers License for a two year period, not withstanding that I have never acted as a dealer.
I was wrong to have made multiple applications in order to get a better allocation in T2 than I otherwise might have got. This poor decision had significant costs and embarrassment. More than the personal humiliation was the shame I felt for causing embarrassment to my wife and children.
I regret the decision I made, I remain embarrassed about it and I am sorry for it.
To be clear, what I did was apply for shares in a manner that allowed me to buy more shares than I would have otherwise. I had no intention, nor did I ever take a single dollar from the government or anyone else.
My action was not illegal, and as such ASIC did not take any court action. Further applying with multiple applications was mentioned in the Telstra prospectus.
Part of the reason I made so many multiple applications, was of the challenge; how many applications could I get through the system - fact was every one of the 400 applications I submitted allowed me to buy extra shares in Telstra.
I see a challenge in community policy formation becoming more an open forum and giving greater clarity to the public’s voice.
The system I have set out for Online Direct Democracy is one the public will control; the public will select the issues, there is a clear criteria on the research, the public vote and then if there is a clear majority view, that’s how the Senators and House of Representatives have committed in writing to act.
I think this will help make our government more inclusive and much more progressive. Unfortunately traditional politicians will be in opposition to Online Direct Democracy, as some will see Online Direct Democracy taking away from their authority. The business sector will hate it as it will put more power back with the people. The vocal minority will hate it because it will counter act the undue influence they currently have, and lobbyists will hate it because it may well put many of them out of work.
And if Online Direct Democracy does get Senators and or House of Representatives elected, and for any reason people are not happy with what is delivered, they simply vote against Online Direct Democracy at the following election.
Online Direct Democracy
Online Direct Democracy is a genuine attempt to give people easy access to accurate information and balanced argument on the important issues facing our nation, to make politics more progressive, to make politics more engaging and ensure that the majority view is clearly heard beyond election day.
Online Direct Democracy is a not-for-profit Organisation. I am volunteering my time and energy.
We live in a great country. We have a democratic society with free speech. A flavour of 100 different cultures. A population who in the main (but not all) are logical, considerate and compassionate. A vast majority of who have access to the internet. I believe it is with these factors an Online Direct Democracy type concept would be of valuable input to any government.
If you like the concept please join us. The only way to give the Online Direct Democracy concept substance is for people to get involved, to lend a hand and help. Help, even in the smallest of ways, such as sending an email to friends and asking them to simply visit the Online Direct Democracy website or to 'like' our Facebook fan page would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to look into Online Direct Democracy,
Berge Der Sarkissian