Thursday 18th of April 2024

Strategy II

This is an attempt to bring the original "Strategy", which has been quite improved by the discussion, up to date.

In the coming period we need a method to shadow individual MPs from issue to issue, as Howard's only check on power is the possibility of a Senator crossing the floor. Although Howard has more power than ever, he relies on the complete solidarity of his Senators, and Liberal solidarity has looked better.

As a tool to achieve this the Dome of Conscience shows great promise. It is a place where individual MPs and candidates can make their views known from issue to issue. So if a politician makes a public statement about an issue, I think we should get in the habit of telling that politician to place the view in this transparent, public domain.

Some people on this site are no doubt letter writers anyway, and I'd encourage people, in their writing to MPs, to get into a general habit of mentioning the Dome as a place where MPs can make specific views known. No more off the record, "well I really think ... but". If they have a view on the issue, they can put it on the Dome. This part of the campaign anyone can start now, as a part of their general activism, on any issue.

At the same time as promoting the Dome to politicians, I think we can play a much greater role than founder Ralph McKay could in promoting it to activists. Due to the nature of the site its political neutrality must be pristine. But we can reach out to other sites and organisations and encourage them to incorporate the Dome in their lobbying.

In terms of background to any campaign we undertake, it doesn't matter if it gets used for issues we utterly disagree with. In fact it will become more potent as it is used for very different views by different sides of politics. The more it is used the more political imperative there will be for MPs to use it.

But this is background. I'm not sure if the Dome is a means to an end or if we are the means to its end, but we can best serve the Dome and democracy by focussing on a critical issue.

A few opinions have been expressed here (I agree Pegasus that more would have been nice considering how many people were reading) and none really contradict the proposal to protecting Australia's cross-media ownership (in effect, protecting Fairfax from the media barons). In fact, from Margo's book to earlier discussions on this site, there's momentum here already for the issue and we're going with it.


For good factual information on Cross Media Laws start with Media Ownership Regulation in Australia in the Parliamentary Library. It's a very good brief with links to relevant Acts and a breakdown of actual media ownership in Australia.

Glenys Stradijot, campaign co-ordinator for Friends of the ABC, is very interested in working with us, as they have been working on it for a while, under the name, "Campaign for Australian Media Diversity". She has forwarded me a lot of bibliographical type information on the subject, along with the request, "As you will see, desperately need a researcher who can pull out from piles of info material I wld need to devt material for wider consumption. So if you come across anyone, pls send them my way." Anyone?

In terms of on-the-ground activity, if anyone is in Melbourne, they may want to contact Glenys. I'm hoping she gives a full report on the Campaign for Australian Media Diversity on YD soon.

Friends of Fairfax have mutated into Xmedia, which is dedicated to the issue, and has news, blogs and articles. I have not managed to make contact yet, but I'd suggest we all bookmark it. They are mostly journalists I think, and apart from supporting their campaign in any ways we can (I think they're Sydney based so their might be opportunities for on-the-ground work for people there too), they are key people to show the strategy of using the Dome. Thanks Anthony Cole for this link.

For a very readable, human account of the coalface of the last time this campaign was necessary, and how close we really got to losing Fairfax, there are three chapters in Margo's book Not Happy John! dedicated to the subject.

Chapter 5: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward
Chapter 6: Closing the Door on Your Right to Know
Chapter 7: Unholy Alliances


The next step is to write a letter to every MP, politely explaining our concern for the issue and that we'd like to know their views. Something like:

Senator (firstname surname)
Dear Senator (surname)
Senator the Hon (firstname surname)
Dear Minister
Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr (firstname surname), MP
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr (surname)
The Hon (firstname surname), MP
Dear Minister

Your Democracy is an Australia-wide network based at which concerns itself with watching Australia’s democratic culture and infrastructure. We have no loyalty to any political party.

One of the critical institutions in a democracy is the media, as effective democracy depends upon good information for citizens. We are of the view that the media serves citizens best when it is diverse, and when its ownership and control is diverse. This is an orthodox view among small 'd' democrats around the world, and we know that this issue will be of concern to all of you, in all Parties, who hold the fabric of our great democracy dear.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Australia 41st in the world for press freedom last year. New Zealand was 9th, Canada was 18th, The USA was 22nd and The UK 28th, to compare with some of our Westminster cousins. Once again this will concern all those MPs who hold our democratic society dear, from all parties, as much as it concerns us.

So we feel that if there are to be any changes to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 or other Acts which effect media ownership then they should be with a view to strengthen and expand media diversity rather than to further narrow it.

We are asking every Federal MP for their own view on Cross-Media ownership laws, and whether or not they should be changed.

We would like you to make your view known by going to the website, The Dome of Conscience (, and voting for the Placard, "Support laws that ensure diversity of media ownership in Australia". Alternately you may wish to post a contrary placard, but we would like to know your view.

Yours Sincerely
Hamish Alcorn

My intention is to edit the actual letter right here, making changes as people suggest them. If I do make changes people suggest, I'll note it next to their comment.

Anyway, I hope that's a bit clearer. I think it is. Please keep commenting.

Democracy needs Chemotherapy

I have had a few thoughts on our strategy.
I may be wrong with some of my suggestions.
here is a brief summation.

We need to attract people outside the loop.

Basically my feeling is that we're well on track, especially with the Dome thing.

The site seems to be working well and the topics are really great. My contribution is a bit odd-ball but I think that's okay.

We may need to do a bit more "trumpeting" according to "Old Sox".

I would suggest here to contact many of the media people we know, or those who leave their personal web site for reply (forget the rat-bags). Let them know that exists, not to replace the general media but to COMPLEMENT it. Like a PEOPLE'S THINK TANK of ideas and actions for fixing what's wrong, which we know the media at large cannot do ... without the pressure of making a buck.

We might need a few more great contributions from Margo. On this level we might need to split the site into two part: the serious Philosophical Part and the Satirical Part which to some extend Hamish has done by having Gus' view. But it's my feeling that too many of Gus' cartoons appear in the general blog. One or two okay. So I'm holding back a bit. One on the front page? Unless the topic is smashing, borderline.

I think we should also try to get a few pollies (even former ones) on board to write or participate openly in the debate. And if we get major contributors like a pollie it needs to be made special.

We would only need those who are really committed to "democracy" (very few are). But beware of the spruikers like Johnnee. There are plenty of those double-crossers who are about lining their own pocket and securing their position rather than helping the rest of the people. A bit of weeding might need to be done here. Also we might get those who plagiarize and plunder other people's work without reference to it.

It might seem like letting the wolf in the door but to my mind democracy has been high-jacked by many factors including porkies, beliefs and a generally sleepy population "enforced" not to lift its head away from the grindstone.

Democracy presently needs Chemotherapy! Shock tactics. (Without going to revolution ... too traumatic and uncertain and unpleasant).

These pollies would need to be frank and not pass through their spin doctors. They can write under a fake name if they wish but they’d need to let flow their own stream of consciousness.

Basically what this site provides is an alternative "media" that is outside the control of business. Very hard to set up because most will try to ignore us in order not to attract attention to alternatives but perseverance is the important premise to get the general awakening audience. Eventually we will get there.

In doing so, we will have to refrain to condemn openly media organisations (odd cartoon is fine) but cultivate a following through the media too by using the odd "press release&quot. If a pollie expresses some comment on the site... Long shot but the first break will be worth it.

So now that we have all well vented our "media-business" annoyance and know the tricks, we might need to place all these articles and cartoons in the "archives", only to be accessed through membership to the site.

I will refer here to the title page of "Old Sox on Trumpeting" (published 1928) [nothing's new], a satirical book on the techniques and results of "advertising" in which the old boy Gundlach does not "reveal" anything but asks the readers, especially his critics (this is the 3rd edition) to READ BETWEEN THE LINES... Gundlach formed one of the most successful advertising enterprise in the US in 1913(?), but knew philosophy and human behaviour intimately (he should have got a Nobel Prize for his study of the human psyche). When he mentions advertising {trumpeting) we must also read MEDIA.

Because modern media only exists through advertising (apart from the ABC, with clipped wings).

The illustration and the caption of this title page says it all. There is a rich man smoking a fat cigar and another fellow blowing a trumpet. The caption says:
But which is the father? And which is the son?

Dr Keating prescribes

P.Keating in The Age, and in the The Guardian:

Tories gamble Churchillian legacy on race card

A national leader should always be searching for the threads of gold that run through a society, that lift us up and bind us together. The Liberal party, Australia's Tory equivalent, has in recent years made an art form of the whispered word "race".

I claim first riposte: "Labor would abolish the safety net!"

I maybe wrong

We are family but Gus you said three words that makes me agree with you.

I agree on your words of: "I maybe wrong". I disagree on nearly every other point.

We need to consolidate the people inside the loop before we attract from outside.

Your contribution is not odd-ball. Your contribution brings a different dimension that 'the word' can't bring.

That is all I am going to write because I disagree that chemothrapy is what we need when we ain't got cancer.

What safety net?

, I claim second riposte: "What safety net? A "safety net" has the word safe in it.

I may be wrong...

I have worked many years in advertising and I know well how the level playing field is crooked and works with thin perceptions, and how you can be shut out. I still can be wrong though on how we can go about "moving on". But we can't live in a cozy little loop for too long. We need to capture the heart and soul of those who don't care. It's the most diffficult but crafty and risky operation. Not deceit but attention grabbing. That was what this piece was about.

Just one thing Gus

Hi Gus, first I'm glad you have kept the ball rolling on the topic of how to evolve this site. I do disagree quite strongly on one of your points / suggestions -

"I think we should also try to get a few pollies (even former ones) on board to write or participate openly in the debate. And if we get major contributors like a pollie it needs to be made special."

I think exactly the opposite. I want to see your democracy first of all build a strong, diverse & vibrant community following, such that the politicians feel compelled to come to us, to engage once again with the grass roots. But that is very different to 'courting and crowning' (short-hand) politicians in the early days - ie building this site around them.

Because if we do that, the site becomes about politicians, and reacts only to politicians. I want to see 'ordinary Australians' talking to each other, talking about the future of this country, debating current issues, bringing up issues that aren't getting anywhere near enough airplay, and in short - set the agenda themselves. Then let the politicians come, compelled to respond to the people's agenda. If we do it the other round, I know who will set the agenda, and it won't be 'ordinary Australians'.

I think we all agree, who participate on this site, that democracy in Australia is broken. It's politicians on all sides who have lovingly broken it. It will take, in my opinion, non-politicans, talking and acting together, to bring on the fix.

Politicians are people too

Just to be contrary.... This is the rationale: this is a forum for people sure But unless you involve pollies directly you can jump up and down all you wish... only very few people will see you... Say you get a guest pollie ONCE a month (once every two months if you wish) who say something we can hang him/herself with or say something which makes sense (some do), we can attract a lot more action from the asleep-sheep majority via exposure through the main stream media by vertue of "press releases" ... more than 100,000 people read (buy) the SMH every day... In one month with repeat viewing we might get one hundred hits... What this is all about is to develop a way to "preach to the UNCONVERTED..." . At the moment even if we agree or not on what we say, the tactic is preaching to "the converted"... Nothing will change. There are oodles of sites in the US who were doing what we do... and Bush got re-elected... Why? Because the true message is not going out there in average land. We are competing with FOX and all the news at six... all of them spreading the anaesthetic... We have to be bold... Just my point of view though...

The converted aren't organised yet

That's my first point.

There is no level playing field at present. The pollies have the high ground; the major parties have guaranteed media exposure, and certainly for the incumbent government, guaranteed propaganda outlets. They have the power to turn this site into a football that gets kicked from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Secondly, by courting such high-powered speakers, we very much risk in my view discouraging ordinary punters from expressing themselves here. This is half the problem in Australia; there is a culture of elitism when it comes to politics and issues of national interest that is very much un-egalitarian, and that all too often limits the discussion to those with 'credentials' (degrees, professional standing, politicians, academics). I think as a participatory forum

I like your idea of inviting say, one politician a month to post on a particular topic, but I really feel we need to foster each other & encourage others to join and start expressing themselves in the first instance. We need some confidence in our own ability to think, question, plan before we are confronted by the sublime arrogance that accompanies most elected representatives.

It's my belief...

It's my belief we need to start to take risks, including that of ridicule, if we want to achieve anything... George Bernard Shaw said something to the effect that "progress (read change) is only achieved by the unreasonable man..." true to a point when he adds "the unreasonable man will change his environment, the reasonable man will adapt to it..." Change can be bad or good but change we need and as some friends of mine would say; "there is a feeling of urgency..." How long can we wait to be ready? Many of us are ready now I feel. On the other hand we can keep steady as she goes for another ten years and nothing will change...


Hey Hamish, one thing I'd like to see in the letter is a comment about our stance on political loyalties, or lack of. [Hamish: Change made.] What I mean is that if any of the pollies read here right now they would conclude this is a Johnny bashing site and ignore it if they are Lib/Nat. I would make the point that as we are currently looking at Federal issues there is a natural tendency to be critical of the encumbent.

Therefore I would add that we intend to be equally critical of all parties and have no political ambitions as a group, individuals of course make their own choices.

Once we cover State and Council issues I'm confident the criticism of both Lib/Nat and Labor will become apparent. I have no loyalty to either group and dislike both what the Feds are up to and here in our Labor state of Qld.

The only other thing is that the letter states that we intend to publish it here. I would suggest that will ensure minimal response whereas a reaction to the Dome may be more likely if some get started.

Of course if we don't publish any responses here then only the person sending the letter would see the reply or replies so that makes it difficult for others to be involved. We could have an email news group but that would also require permission to forward the replies in full (copyright law).

I'm arguing with myself here and I think I come down on the side of just pointing them to the Dome initially which may be less threatening for them.

For Gus and Myriad. I agree we need to start taking risks. If we don't we'll just be a debating society which is nice but achieves nothing.

Re having politicians posting here. If we do invite any to post here it has to be with their real name. Unlike my own situation where I crave anonymity there is little point to having an unkown pollie make statements as it doesn't achieve anything does it?

I also don't like the idea of having any of them in our group unless they join as a member with the same intentions as those of us that have already joined. As Myriad says we are still only just starting and the last thing we need is a pollie here spouting bullshit.

Politicians are not people

Gus, Politicians are not people. They were once. They belong to the collective called The Party. The Party comes first in most cases even before their own needs. The Party, whatever party that is, comes in most cases before the wants and needs of their own family. The Party tells them what to do and not what to do. That is why they tell so many porkies because they do not have the agenda of us normals who have no party to go to.

Talk to a politician and they will talk around the subject because they don't want to say what they feel without having the Party putting a tick or a cross on their own opinion.

John Howard began the Federal election of "Who do you trust?" Now trust is very important to society and surveys have been done on the professions in "trust". It has been consistant that second-hand car salesmen, journalists, politicians and real estate salesmen are at the bottom of the 'trust pile' and have been on the bottom for about 30 or more years.

The Prime Minister says "Trust me" and a second-hand car salesman says the same thing and you buy a lemon on four wheels. The other bloke Labor's Mark Latham also said "trust me" and then journalists in the newspapers show Mr Latham has bashed a taxi driver in his past but he says trust me. The taxi driver didn't trust him and he didn't trust the taxi driver. Now there are a lot of taxi drivers out there and Latham lost the election.

Now we have Kim Beazley. At the election before Latham the people of Australia did not trust Kim Beazley. Do we trust Kim now? No. Do we trust John Howard? No. There are three politicains at the top of the heap and we don't trust any of them.

Would we trust a politician here in this democratic site of "Your Democracy?" Well if you can't trust the PM, and with the Budget we can't trust Costello and we can't trust Latham and we can't trust Beazley, what are politicains good for? Making war I suppose. The Brits trust Blair a little bit. He is losing ground but he is hanging on. Bush is another politician. Do we trust Bush?

There was an Australian and he went to the US and with two suitcases demanded to speak to President Bush. He was tackled to the ground by the FBI and deported never to go to the US again. Maybe the politicain we should get is President Bush to come onto this site. Now who is going to the US of A with two suitcases and ask nicely from the White House car park?

comparing apples and oranges

And rather creating a straw man or false perception of what I'm saying. I'm certainly not saying let's do nothing for ten years, or even one. I am saying, let's get ourselves organised, expand the membership of this site to get some real diversity & critical mass of thought behind it, agree on a strategy (which may or may not have several components), or let different groups here pursue different strategies, but be clear about what we want as a group / site / community - then start asking people to come here who already have a platform & tell us what they think.

I want to set the agenda with the members of this site, not have it set, or be constantly in a reactionary phase to whatever propaganda or otherwise a pollie might choose to drop in here. I want politicians to come courting us, not us go courting politicians.

Heck at the moment there are how many registered users at this site? Are we even up to a 100? Why the hell would a politician come here and engage? It's not ridicule or any other such silly concept that worries me, it's the fact that suggesting that is a concern reflects precisely my concern - that we are already letting others set the agenda and perception of what we are trying to do.

We should be!

As for change, I think one of the most definite things we can agree on is that we are all here because we want change. It is certainly the case for me.

I disagree

There are many politicians who try their hardest not to con people, and adhere to strong human principles, whether or not they make value judgement on some issues. For example I believe although I've never met the man that Bob Brown is a trustworthy politician who is being indirectly crucified by the present government that's leasing public forest to private enterprise for private profit until the forest runs out. A democracy without politicians is very difficult if not impossible to maintain.

Oranges and Apples

Myriad, You have put a worthy two cents worth in but as for change I don't have two one-cent coins to rub together.
I agree with you. We should be! We are Bs to some, A, and we are D and A to all, C. We all want change to coin a phrase and some of us will go acourting for the dollar. We need at least 50 to put their two cents in to make a dollar change and a lot of sense to take a proper gander at ourselves or we are gooses.
Then we can set our own agender for we need more female gender with an insightfulness as yourself or an outsightly critical mass or mess will enshrew here. That is the case for me here, that I put to you in my brief case here in courting members in this place here on the net. Keep your opinions flowing Myriad for you have put that we should do it for ourselves. I agree. Who else will do it but the elves.

My 1.82 cents & "The Forgetten Chat Feature"

Our true democracy is not the aged institutions which have already copped a hiding elsewhere on the site. I believe our democracy (and of course your democracy) is the sum total of the consciousness, opinions, and actions of all people living in all parts of Australia. At present, this sum total periodically reiterates their support for the lazy and greedy policies of the economic expansionists and all those who feed from their externalised trough.

In times past, technological and logistical limits, meant that large scale, stable systems of government required elements of autocracy which put most power in the hands of the few.

More recently, the global population has been awakened to the true power of an organized populace, yet autocratic systems (traditional media, corporatism, party politics) continue to coerce these "democratic" populations to lend their support to those who would use it for personal interests.

Enter Internet.

I believe the goal of this site should be to reawaken the people of Australia. To provide the information, dicussion and location needed to recreate an empowered populace which can act and vote for themselves.

To do this we need to aim for 100% participation in this site. You may believe this is unattainable but I still reckon it should be a stated aim.

You may think patient growth and specific policy focus is the best way forward for this site. Or perhaps you believe that bold trailblazing and mainstream media attention is the only option.

I say do both, but don't forget to tell your friends, family, enemies, acquaintances, and yes even your MP's to join, post, and create your democracy.

Remember, Australia began as a stolen continent used as a colonial prison for a global superpower. To achieve enlightened and inclusive democracy is a virtuous and challenging task for which we need maximum, personal support.

May I also suggest that we organize a time for a chat session in the lovely chatbox located between my account and Log Out in the side menu. I think that some faster communication at this early stage may help to consolidate our position and get things cooking.

Politician's participation

My view is that politicians should be encouraged to use this site like everone else, but that they should be welcomed and encouraged the same as any one else.

I agree with Myriad that it could skew the nature of the space if we gave MPs some sort of special presence. Their position will make their posts stand out anyway.


Hi Myriad, there's about 290 people registered on the site, and it slowly grows. I agree we need to expand numbers and participation. I think the best way to do this is with a campaign for people to rally around.

Am still hoping for more comment, but am feeling we'll just push ahead now with the plan.

happy to get going on a campaign / strategy Hamish

In the immortal words of one total jackass "bring it on" ;-)

I have put the word out on this site through my networks, and also pointed my local pollies to the Dome.

I'm also more than happy to go with cross-media ownership as our first 'big issue'; or we could have a discussion perhaps on picking an issue, or more than one?

To be clear, it's not that I don't think cross-media ownership is important, it most definitely is, but so is Industrial Relations reform (something that Beazley has indicated will be a "bloodfight"), Climate Change, the shambles that is our health system, welfare reform etc etc.

All I'm saying is there are number of ways we could go, and I must say, I wish more of the 290 registered users would comment. But if not, let's go with the consensus on what to do from those active here, and if it's using the Dome, starting with Cross-Media Ownership, let's do it.

A cross media

I wish you luck Myriad.

Dome Letters

Myriad, you're brilliant. And Len, ya better wish me luck too mate.

Myriad, did you write to your pollies about the Dome? I'm wondering, if so, would you publish your letter here?

I'm thinking that the main letter from us all to all the pollies, followed by a press release, is a part of the campaign that I basically organise, with feedback and help from yourselves, as we've been doing. But meanwhile, what can we ask people to do in general?

One really good thing to promote in the background is a general letter-writing campaign, from citizens to their representatives, explaining why they should use the Dome in general, to (for a start) help us distinguish them from their parties. Certainly mention cross-media, but choose a placard or two from the Dome you'd really like your representative's opinion on. Now is as good a time as any to start.

As soon as I write such a letter myself, I'll publish it here. Perhaps we should get into the habit when we post a letter to a politician about an issue, to also publish it on the site, that others may use it or adapt it.

More Dome Letters

Hi Myriad/Hamish, I think the Dome is a great starting point and I'd be happy to join the letter writing campaign.

Hamish, I've been giving some thought to designing some sort of flyer to promote this website - something that will work in either printed or electronic format that can be handed out or sent to friends. I haven't put anything to paper yet and would obviously need your input & approval. If you're interested, let me know how I can get some of my ideas to you (I don't know if the feedback section allows for attachments).

I'm excited about the potential of this website and seeing where it goes.


Thanks heaps Sally. For the time being, just send attachments to I'm looking forward to seeing your ideas.

I've come up with some sticker designs as well. Will put some graphics up, hopefully tomorrow, for people to comment on.

Letters to pollies

Hi Hamish, I wrote an informal email to Christine Milne, as I recently met her at a public gig and she gave me her email, as she wanted to borrow a book of mine. I urged her to get all the Greens using the Dome; as a matter of course, as the Democrats seem to be doing. As it was informal based on our conversation, not appropriate for publishing here - certainly no use as a template!

I also wrote to Duncan Kerr & Dick Adams, as Harry Quick is already using the Dome, raised different issues with each of them, and sent it off.

I haven't written to Tassie's other Senators as I come across all the Liberal ones in a working capacity on a regular basis, and let's just say it would not be wise.

Finally, I wrote to Senator Kate Lundy of ACT, as she is an active proponent of three things important to me / us:

  • women's issues - seeking some information for my own satisfaction;
  • the use of the internet by politicians - big plug for the Dome; and
  • Emily's List Australia - urged her as a younger female politician to get all Emily's List pollies / candidates to use the Dome.

Here's what I wrote on the last two points:

"... As a younger politician who has clearly recognised the the power of the Internet in strengthening our democracy,I would like to urge you to make use of an excellent web resource for democracy in our country, the “Dome of Conscience

How to Get Politician's Attention

Myriad emailed me an extremely helpful link about how to contact politicians. I've found it very useful for writing the letter properly, and have continued editing it in the same place.

But this site is just the sort of thing that makes me think of food for democracy. Actually empowering information for everyday people.

The site itself is Electronic Frontiers Australia, which looks great, but the section I've found so useful so far is How to Get Politicians' Attention.

The Cross Media Letter Draft

Hi. This is my first post so I'm a bit disoriented.

I'm responding to the draft letter regarding the cross media ownership laws. I would add something on the topic that having a diverse media doesn't predjudice one party or set of interests over another - the choice being made is whether the standards for public discussion are set highly for everyone, encouraging a high quality of democracy, or whether the tone of discussion is allowed to degenerate until everyone is forced to play a 3-second spin game, regardless of whether they want to or not.

Actually, it occurs to me that the issue of standards is actually a whole topic in itself, and may have been dealt with elsewhere on this site. If not, it probably should be.

a diverse media

Welcome aboard Andrew.

May I bring out to everyone's attention the latest bulletin from the Media, Entertainment and Arts alliance (the former Journalist union): "Turning up the heart: The decline of press freedom in Australia 2001-2005..."

I do not know if this printed journal appears on their web site but the site is

Thanks for you comments.

Journalistic Standards

Welcome to the site Andrew.

Standards in media has not really been discussed here yet. Thanks for bringing it up. It has been discussed a lot in Webdiary, but not much for a long time.

New Era of spins

Nice post and a rather soulful phonetic surname comes after your first name Andrew - 'Do Good.' Your Democracy was created to evolve into the spirit of hearty goodness.

Lance Knobel delivered a brilliant lecture in Australia, and posted the text on his blog:

When the Berlin wall fell in November 1989, a new era of democracy was inaugurated...

Parties without ideas, debates without the most important participants, media without criticism… [and] no institutional framework, no broader political culture to help foster diversity of opinion for the future. The Media and Change: Nullius in verba: navigating through the new media democracy



The Knobel lecture *is* brilliant. Deserves to be printed and digested in the sunshine, tomorrow.

But, one thought nudged up. Is there an underlying presumption that there is general thirst for knowledge? I suspect not, and the Homer Simpson paradigm may actually drive the opposite effect. That is, when more Joes are on-line, and a meme is transmitted, like "photos of Nic with kit off over here", I think the consequence is predictable. Of course, people have been warning, but it just started to sink in. The 'mass' is going to get bigger, hungrier and more easily satisfied. The differential between the Wired and non-wired is going to get sharper, as the core of the truly wired is contracted by technological demands of blogging, RSSing, Wiki-ing, Googling and Skyping. Pretty soon we will wave to Gutenberg, as we head back into a new dark age. Tits & bums for the Homers, and illuminated manuscripts for the privileged few.

Dome Suggestion

Hi Hamish, I'd like to suggest that in addition to writing to pollies to ask them to register and vote on the Dome, that we also keep an eye on who has been voting and occasionally send through a note of thanks to reinforce that it's a worthwhile exercise for them to undertake. I was having a look the other day and noticed that a Greens candidate had voted earlier this week and thought it a good idea to let him know that people are checking the site.

Hamish: Excellent suggestion.

Good Luck Hamish

Good Luck Hamish. To publish letters to politicians on the net here can be a guarantee against any flak against any one member from a politician. Stand together as members of this site. Closer, closer, ahh that's lovely. I love a hug. Politicians also may not reply and members can see the policians who ignore us.

Cyber Activism Actually works

Hamish, great suggestions as usual and while I will expand this into a full blog entry when I have time this week, I would just like to give one example of where 'net based activism can be quite powerful. The owners of the Sydney "My Restaurant Rules" restaurant "Pink Salt" have been forced to back pay their staff the Award Rates thanks in part to bad internet publicity and an electronic campaign to flood their mail boxes with protest emails See the Rights at Work website for more information.

For those who have not visited Webdairy recently, Margo Kingston and Jack Robertson are also putting together a "people's enquiry" into the latest immigration scandal, the deportation of Australian Vivian Alvarez. Both Represent great ways for us to take back our Democracy by bypassing mainstream media and doing the job our Parliaments can't or won't do. I will write more on this in a separate blog soon.


Confession time.

I went looking for an RSS aggregator, and found Bloglines. It was a breeze to set up, and am now very pleased with the results.

From OnLine Opinion -

Mainstream press is missing the unique point of new media

Hugh Brown argues mainstream news publishers are missing one of the main advantages of new media - hypertext.

Drupal gets a mention on Slashdot -

Dan Gillmor Launches Grassroots Journalism

Great scary site

Hey Myriad, via Hamish, What a great site.

Scary stuff and thank goodness there are people able to monitor and document the sort of changes happening without public announcements as such. I'm starting to wonder if there are more of " us " out here than " them defending the castle. A good feeling.

The tips on contacting pollies is also excellent. Highlights for me the deficiencies in my own correspondence.

Thanks for the link.

A Small Success for Your Democracy

I thought it was worth mentioning that I've just visited the Dome to check out if anyone has been voting and noticed that 9 people have voted in the last two days, as opposed to just 3 for the month before that! It could be coincidence, but I'm hoping we've had our first small success.


It seems so. I talked to Senator Andrew Bartlett on the phone last week about the Dome. He apparently had a spate of voting two days ago, along with a lot of candidates, and especially Democrats.

I've tried to contact Harry Quick, who last voted in April and is not only the only sitting Labor person to use it (to my knowledge) but he gave it a positive mention in Parliament as well. He hasn't gotten back to me yet. But if he is your rep, it's not a bad thought to drop him a line of appreciation for his foresight.

Today I posted a letter to Kevin Rudd, my MP, asking him if he would post a placard on the Dome. Here's the letter.


16 May 2005

Attention: Mr Kevin Rudd, MP

Sender: Hamish Alcorn
Highgate Hill 4101

Mr Kevin Rudd, MP
Dear Mr Rudd,

My name is Hamish Alcorn, I live in your electorate and am the convenor of a website, The website grew from readers of Margo Kingston’s book, Not Happy John! – Defending Our Democracy. It is a party-independent website which seeks to promote and defend democracy. (Disclosure: I am Margo’s brother).

Although our goals are non-partisan, I don’t think we need to pretend that an immediate goal is not to place whatever check we can on Howard’s power, and to see him from power. I see Howard – as I think do many true liberals – as the greatest threat to Australia’s democracy since Federation. So we have a common goal there.

In the coming period the only possible check on Howard’s power is individual senators crossing the floor, issue by issue. We believe that there is an opportunity on the internet to exploit individual weaknesses, and to look for multiple wedges in coalition ranks. The opportunity is a website developed by an Australian called Ralph McKay called, the Dome of Conscience.

You may have heard of it, but I won’t give a long winded introduction here. The Dome was launched in Parliament by Greg Hunt MP, and his explanation of it, reproduced in Hansard, is as good as any. In short it is a system whereby MPs and candidates can make their view public on individual issues or even statements of principle. So far mostly Greens and Democrats use it, but with the ALP’s cooperation, along with a concerted internet campaign across Australia’s political websites, it could become a very constructive thorn in the government’s side. Harry Quick MP votes in the Dome, to his credit.

Expect letters asking for specific commitments on the Dome from our website and from constituents. Specifically, Ralph McKay from the Dome will shortly be writing to all MPs explaining the Dome and how it can be used, as he has done before.

Candidly you and I are no doubt aware that any extra pressure the Dome managed to exert on the government would also be present when the ALP gains power. So I am trusting that the value of democratic constraints on power is as important to you as it is to us. I believe that that is the case.

Immediately we want a politician to place a ‘placard’ in the Dome which says something like, “Any erosion of Cross-Media ownership restrictions would lessen diversity of media-ownership and hence undermine our democracy

New Placard in the Dome

I just discovered there is a new placard in the Dome, "Support laws that ensure diversity of media ownership in Australia". Nobody has voted on it yet, so whichever MP or candidate put it up is waiting. I suspect Senator Andrew Bartlett put it up, but Myriad contacted a lot of pollies, so who knows?

A swag of Citizen's Electoral Council candidates have started voting as well.



Hey Hamish, I hadn't noticed this post and must have missed it.

I gather this is a personal letter from you to Kev rather than a letter representing YD.

I realise that very few commented on the draft and as such you could write anything you choose to.

However I must say I am disappointed that the Labor slant is so obvious. You do state that we are non partisan but immediately negate that statement by declaring your loyalty to Labor in non too subtle terms.

I can see little point in asking Labor Members to make statements on the Dome site that they have already made repetetively in all media.

On the topic chosen, cross media the targets should be Lib/Nats and independents otherwise it's preaching to the converted.

Perhaps your approach may get a few Labor MP's posting there and maybe that is intended to encourage Government members to post too but how are they going to know about it if nobody writes to them?

Is there still an intent to write to all or are we just going to be cheerleaders for Labor Members?

I have asked several times for forums to cover State and Council issues but perhaps that is not intended as we don't want to be seen to criticise Labor?

Yes, I'm disappointed, not just by this letter, but by the shotgun approach of all to date.

I'm not going to run away and sulk, I'll keep pushing my line just as everyone else is pushing theirs.

One good thing though is that you and one or two others are the only ones who actually respond to my posts so I assume you are also the only ones reading as well.

Strategy / Letters

Hi Pegasus, that was a letter from myself to my own member, as Myriad has done to hers. You are right that we have to move to a letter to every Senator. But any inroad into the Dome at all, on any issue at all, will help the general mailout do its job.

And while I'm trying to figure out the best way to mailout by snailmail to every Federal parliamentarian (Jack, have you got a system to do this?), it is something anyone can do. Write to your own representative your own version of a letter about cross-media ownership (or another issue) and tell them to vote on it in the Dome. The more times the pollies and their staffers see 'the Dome' referred to, the more likely they are to have a look and vote.

Meanwhile Ralph McKay has given us full license to promote and speak for the Dome. He's given me a key, by which I can get a politician voting within minutes over the phone, rather than she or he having to wait for authentification. I'm not going to publish my phone number here, but feel free to email me yours, or that of your briefed representative, if you have a friendly pollie who would like to be talked straight through to the voting.

David and Nigel meanwhile are working on a module for the site whereby people can, by a click or two, email a politician of their choice on a given issue, or download a printable version for a snailmail letter. This is something that will facilitate general civic activity on the site. Letter writing remains the standard staple tool for the citizen activist - insufficient alone but essential as a base for other credible activism.

So Pegasus, there are a few of us doing things here, but we should be a bit patient, and not begrudge the rest of the conversation.

At the same time, thanks for the wake-up encouragement, and yep, there's lot's more people can do if they wish. Like you I'd love to see some comments on strategy - even completely different ideas - from others on the site. Again, let's be patient, and encourage one another carefully.


Pegasus, it sounds like we are the pack horses while the squatters on their thoroughbreds on top of us make decisions that affect us but we will never know about what those decisions are that will affect us that we are in the dark about because we are mushrooms and toadstools at the bottom of the heap compost heap.

Don't you think it is just like John Howard and Co. under a different name, but much the same as the aristocrats of the Liberal era with the same terrible downcast attitude that someone needs to be on the bottom as long as it is not them.

Labor cheersquad?

I agree with you about the scattergun approach. With a minimal number of people contributing at present, it's a little hard I think to get a clear consensus, clear focus etc. The trouble with politics is so much happens so quickly, and at the same time we are all trying to build this website via participation - one eg, Jack Smit starting to blog here - I think it's terrific, and of course it's got my brain racing off about Immigration again etc. But wait, we were going to target cross-media ownership! but there's real pressure on Vanstone / Howard over mandatory detention & deportation at the moment! What about Industrial Relations reforms?

You know what I mean? So much info, very hard to stay focussed, yet not miss opportunities, get / stay organised, restrict to one tactic, etc.

Now, Labor.

I think Labor are a spineless bunch of wimps who are only marginally less bought by the corporates than the Libs. I keep thinking of Bob Brown's characterisation of "the Laborials".

I am a firm believer in mulit-party, diverse representation democracy, and the day party factions die will be a day I cheer. I hate the Laborial attempts to divide, conquer, smear, sideline, use and trash minor parties.

However, for a functioning democracy, first and foremost right now we need a functioning, sharply differentiated main opposition. Which god help us, is Labor right now. Every time they differentiate they need encouragement. Particularly at the Senate level, because more discussion & deals are done there than anywhere else, so empowering the coming Labor / Green / Dem minority is just as important as wooing the Nats / Libs. Therefore I don't think Hamish's letter, playing the Labor fiddle to Rudd is a waste of time, nor necessarily cheerleading. It's part of strategy.

I wrote to all my local reps & the Greens more broadly in Tas (because I have contacts) - except the Liberals. Why? Two reasons, same reasons why I remain anonymous:

  • I work in the Federal public service & therefore come into regular indirect & occasional direct contact with Liberal senators & backbenchers.
  • I also have a pending immigration case for my same sex partner.

Therefore I simply have too much personally at stake to write to the Lib reps on most matters. Come November and fingers crossed, a positive result for my partner's permanent residency, I will be somewhat freer, although will remain anonymous here for the first reason. What I will do is write to them regarding the Dome come that November decision - and I'm also bugging friends. ;-)

Regarding the Dome, I know for myself I get a little confused at times regarding the Dome as a mechanism, or an ends. I do think though that even if we did only write to Labor & Greens etc. in the first instance and get them using it & publicly supporting it, we could achieve the following things:

  1. bolster the opposition parties & get a clearer handle on where they stand and be better able to place more targeted pressure
  2. bolster current internal Labor efforts to reform the Party and break the strangehold of the factions
  3. place pressure on the Libs/Nats to use the Dome because everyone else is; and hence if we were really going strong
  4. via the Dome, provide public pressure for the return of the Lib/Nat conscience vote, which Howard crushed in 1996.

Final point in a long post. At the moment we have too few active people trying to be all things to all those here. We need more participation, leadership, strategy discussion. Keep questioning & participating. Whoever is 'leading' and whatever time here, on whatever topic, we are always going to need that.


Myriad, Don't come the raw prawn and say things that ain't there.

Are you of the Liberal Party or the Nats?

1. Just where is the scattergun? You have it in your hands and you are spraying.
2. You don't agree with me at all.
3. Where is the consensus?
4. Is Jack Smit of the Labor Party?
5. Yes your brain does race enough to think you have a brain better than mine. It ain't.
6. Stuff Industrial relations . . . where are the unions?
7. Rudd is a do nothing Christian, but he is familar because Hamish is Qld.
8. You are the same sex as what/ Myriad the word is gender. What same gender as what partner?
9. Be careful with the word "bugging". It sounds like something else and the righters don't like it.
10. Yes Myriad keep working. It is called participating.

39 days to go

Lewis(a) also has had a very considered thread of strategy and has had too little response. (Once again you are an exception Pegasus).

She also had an excellent suggestion to have a countown on the site to the new Senate sitting. I can't really move on that any faster, so for the time being:

Days to Howard's new Senate sitting: 39

Len, my reply was to Pegasus

But I'll respond anyway. (In italics)

Are you of the Liberal Party or the Nats?

Good lord no. But I am employed as a Federal public servant, which according to the doctrine of Howard, means I serve his government, not the people. See the problem already?

1. Just where is the scattergun? You have it in your hands and you are spraying.

I think our approach is scattergun, and yep I'm part of that. I also think it's in part the site design (ie multiple blogs & forums, which are great for generating discussion) combined with a low level of participation at present (lots of discussion, not necessarily any organised focus). By this I don't mean I want to see us all lined up like regimental soldiers, but I do think, probably most likely because the site is in it's formative stage, we are a little bit all over the place. Of course, I'm a virgo so this freaks me out, but overall I don't think it's a bad thing, just something to keep an eye on.

2. You don't agree with me at all.

As my original reply wasn't to you, I think that's moot. I will say that your love of somewhat cryptic metaphors doesn't make you the easiest person here to decipher.

3. Where is the consensus?

On what? But my first instinct is to say "exactly" - see scattergun worries of mine. I do however think, from this thread, that we had some consensus from those who participated to (a) target the watering down of cross-media ownership laws as our first issue of concern with regard to an effectively functioning democracy, and (b) to target the Dome by asking pollies to use it, as a tool that will enhance transparency & participation in our democracy. It's the other topics we've got floating around that I'm not sure we are sure what we want to do with yet. I think they are all vital, and I also think that action isn't always going to be our response. I think more than anything the low number of active participants here is nagging at me.

4. Is Jack Smit of the Labor Party?

Absolutely no idea, but having seen his site, still no idea really, but instinct say, I don't think so. Not sure how this is relevant? I was referring to Jack Smit starting to blog here on Immigration as both welcome, but also - for me at least - a flag regarding the issue of strategy, focus etc. See comments above.

5. Yes your brain does race enough to think you have a brain better than mine. It ain't.

Regardless of the fact I wasn't addressing you, I think it's worth pointing out here that we'll all get along better if we avoid personal slights like the one you thought you perceived from me & responded in kind to. I can assure you I harbor no preconceptions nor intend to waste any time thinking about who has the best brain around here.

6. Stuff Industrial relations . . . where are the unions?

Last I saw, trying to make noise, and getting ignored by the MSM (MainStream Media), and watching helplessly while Labor tries to work out whether its Union connections should be sacrificied or supported - because according to the doctrine of Howard, the unions are irrelevant and worse. No wonder we picked media ownership as a key issue! Without an open and diverse media, this stuff just doesn't get out.

7. Rudd is a do nothing Christian, but he is familar because Hamish is Qld.

Not sure of your point here.

8. You are the same sex as what/ Myriad the word is gender. What same gender as what partner?

Actually, the word is sex. Gender is a cultural construct. I and my partner are both female, and identify in terms of gender as women.

9. Be careful with the word "bugging". It sounds like something else and the righters don't like it.

Lol. good point.

10. Yes Myriad keep working. It is called participating.

Well I'm glad I got something right. ;-)


Yep, Myriad sounds like a propaganderist to me.


Hey Myriad, looks like I started something. My impatience shows yet again.

Yes, you're quite right about too much happening. There's so much rubbish going on in QLD we could write War and Peace on it and just be starting.

I guess I'm just thinking along the lines of all of us have our own favourite topics, probably tons of them in fact. If we try to keep our interest in that and contribute to those interests then this site suffers as we are all so busy being busy. Know what I mean?

There are too few contributing and I wish some of those guests would join in, or some of the other members. I'm dying to get more views, comments and more perspective. And more help.

Hamish needs help trying to get the site organised as well as keep discussions going and keep up with all that is moving. I am suggesting our best approach would be to sacrifice something for a little while and focus on the essentials, like why we are here, what we want, how to get it and where to celebrate after. That sort of stuff.

I know how hard it is to leave a passion on the shelf for a while but if we don't then we will either never get really rolling or it will take so long Bonasi might have actually retired by then, more likely expired. Me too.

I know exactly what you mean about conflict with Government jobs. As a public servant you sign a statement about not making comment on issues relating to blah blah blah. Or at least you used to, maybe today it's just another invisible law/rule.

So I do understand the restrictions and risk to careers that brings. That's another part of why real names are dodgy on the web, or in newspapers.

The need for a strong Opposition has never been so desperately needed as you say. But what we have is virtually nothing. Both Federally and State level. At Feds level we have a bunch of self promoting untalented individuals who all see themselves as Leader (of what I ask?). There are some with promise but they don't see the light of day generally.

At QLD State level, Beattie could go fishing for the next 3 years, get exposed by the Health Royal Commission and probably rob a few banks with no disguise and he'd still win the next election as no one will ever elect a Nat government here in the foreseeable future.

My comment about Labor cheersquads is just my continued frusrtration at only having Howard bashing (I am that way myself) going on, generally. I'd like to write some about Labor in this State and I'm sure people in other States would too. My frustration on that point is that no Lib/Nats supporters will feel welcome here and we need people of all persuasions here to succeed.

Finally, personally I do so hope you get your partner's OK to be an Aussie, so to speak. I can't think of a more worrying position for a couple to be in. Take heart and be positive while the wheels turn.


out of curiousity Len

Just who am I spreading propaganda for?

Bottom line Len, this sort of stuff on the web works on trust. If you don't trust me, whoever it is you think I'm disingeniously representing, we won't get far. I can't ask you to trust me, and won't, but I will hope with time this will work out between us.


Impatience is a virtue?

Hey Hamish, sorry the impatience flows again. Of course I did know your letter was a personal one but I just thought it might be a spur to focus others on why we are here.

And yes, any pollie who writes at the Dome will help, even if they are all non LIb/Nat. I know that. Just champing at the bit.

I have written to a couple of pollies but I haven't done so as a YD member as I think it's best that the initial intro letter goes first. Just my preference. I don't expect any response but who knows?

I hope you did get some of that elusive fun on the weekend. Hope someowone made you go and see THE MOVIE as punishment! LOL.


Hamish: Still haven't seen it, and my son is getting impatient.


Ok Myriad.

Hey Len

Hey Len, I too got that feeling but I know that's not intended. Nevertheless it looks like we are a bit of a rabble and that I'm sure is just as frustrating for all of us.

I am so used to being in organisations where you find out changes of policy when you get a call from a customer asking about the new policy of which you have been told nothing. That drives me crazy and I'm sure it does everyone.

I think the main problem we have is too few trying to cover too much too soon and the basic attack is pretty tough so we write on our well known topics and hobby horses. I do the same.

But, no Len I don't feel it is Bonsai and co. If I did I wouldn't be here and neither would you. You know that. It's just our impatience to achieve something before we are ready as a group. You and I could charge the trenches but we'd end up casualties so let's help each other learn patience. I know we have all been waiting for years but this site is new, it's just that all of us aren't.


No problems Pegasus

Excellent reply.

I think you nailed it right here:

"like why we are here, what we want, how to get it and where to celebrate after."

Amen! Hamish and I (in 'chat'!) were thinking we might try out the 'poll' function of Drupal (the software behind this site) to see if we can get a better gauge from all registered users here on those questions (I bet I end up having to travel for the 'where to celebrate' answer).

I share your frustrations at the state level. While the Tasmanian Lennon gov't isn't quite as unassailable as it sounds like Beattie is, there's certainly serious problems. I must confess that in terms of this site, for me, focussing at the Federal level is the first priority. I do hope though, that over time as the site expands, some robust state-based discussion / action gets going.

Thanks for the personal best wishes. In all honesty - as long as I keep my nose clean, like not writing scathing letters to Vanstone - we should be fine. We got through the big first hurdle nearly 2 years ago, now it's the last leg. As my partner is American, and isn't brown or Muslim, we should be ok, despite being gay. We are currently off the bashing agenda in favour of "Arabs". Still, it will be an enormous burden lifted when we get there.

Yours in comradely cynicism.

Accept my apologies please

Hey Myriad and Len, please accept my apologies for this exchange. I started it and you two shouldn't be affected by my impatience. Please both draw a picture of a flying horse, stick it on the dart board and defuse. I'm at fault, not either of you.


For my part, all's good Pegasus, Len n/t

Mr Rudd Replies

Well, Kevin Rudd's office was prompt. Here's the reply in full.

19 May 2005

Mr Hamish Alcorn

Dear Mr Alcorn

Thankyou for your letter to Kevin dated 16 May 2005 regarding the Dome of Conscience website and inviting Kevin to participate in the site's activities and publish a statement in response to Cross-Media ownership.

I have forwarded your requests and information about to Kevin's media advisor for further consideration.

If you wish to discuss this matter further, or if there are any other Federal Government matters with which Kevin may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact this office on #### ####.

Yours Sincerely,

Louise Bell
Electorate Officer
Office of Kevin Rudd, MP
Federal Member for Griffith


The phone number provided is public for all I know but I couldn't see the point publishing it here for no activist reason.

One note for the future: Media advisors. To promote the Dome, and this site for that matter, to politicians, we are going to have to convince their media advisors.

Once again, although I've identified myself as is proper, this is personal correspondence between myself and my representative. I encourage people to do the same. It doesn't matter if you mention YD, but you can if you like.

I'll keep you up to date if I hear anything more from Kevin. Unless I write again (which I will) I suspect that will be the end of it.


Hamish, Politician's media advisers will have a private opinion on cross-media ownership as well as the official political policy. That means there are two gates to pass through, the public and the private because media advisers need to keep their jobs as well as carry out their job to the best of their ability. Many media advisers will have come through the ranks via the commerial media and Murdoch owns most of it. Therefore they will have a private bias. This could be an insurmountable problem to break through to the politician.

Instead of the official way to the politician what do you think of a public relations way of writing a letter direct to the media adviser and working on the media adviser as a 'media expert' and ask him to join the website. The aim would be to convert the media adviser first in step one before moving to his politican in step two.

Hamish, note in the reply Louise Bell says her name to you and refers to Kevin Rudd as "Kevin" four times, but addresses yourself as "Mr Alcorn".

To me that indicates that writing the first name is a PR strategy but not in true friendliness as she would call you "Hamish". She also does not mention the media officer's name, so there is a gatekeeper block right there at Louise Bell because as she is referring your letter on, it is correct procedure to tell you the name of who will next read your request. It is common courtesy.

Mr Rudd

Hey Hamish, Kevin Rudd has a link on his homepage for " Suggest a site ". Link is .

Perhaps all web sites could be looked at for a similar referral as they are inviting input!

Would still have to go through the channels no doubt but may be quicker than letters for a first upper.

Re: Mr Rudd

Thanks Pegasus. I tried it but his form's not working.

Certainly if anyone finds such an invitation on any Pollie's website, suggest yourdemocracy and also the Dome.

Strategy and Action III

I don't wish to be boorish so I'll keep this brief.

Many postings on this site reflect frustration with the current political system and its outcomes. People feel disempowered and disenfranchised by the whole process. I agree with them.

What we actually need is a more participatory democracy! One idea which raised it's poor little head above the parapet, a year or so ago, was that we should have more referenda - direct voting by the people on the big issues!

I still find our current system of voting for a political party, based on a set of promises (core or non-core) quite ridiculous! Would you trust a politician to keep any promises? In any case, promises are merely that - and meant to fool the mugs into voting them into office. It is untenable to vote a person or party into parliamentary office and then have no effective "controls" over their commitment to those promises.

As a result I believe we should reinvigorate the possibility of people's referenda. This works in some European countries - why not here? John Howard pooh-poohed the idea as expensive and a waste of time. Well.... you get the politicians (or democracy) you deserve. Can we canvass some ideas and feedback from pollies on this one?

Strategy IV

Here's a revolutionary thought!!

We should scrap the Westminster / Party Political / Adversarial system and replace it with a consultative system which is able to plan for a long term (not just for the next election). Too good to wish for huh?

Dear Louise

Well, I persist in corresponding with my local member, and as I've started I might as well continue publishing it.

I sent off the below today to Louise Bell, who replied on behalf of Kevin Rudd to my original letter. Let's see how it goes.


24 May 2005

Attention: Louise Bell

Sender: Hamish Alcorn

Dear Ms Bell,

Thankyou for replying, on behalf of Mr Rudd, to my letter dated 16 May 2005.

Firstly an update is in order. In my letter I asked if Mr Rudd would place a placard on the Dome for us about media ownership. Well someone has done this already, so now my request would just be for Mr Rudd to vote for it. The placard reads, “Support laws that ensure diversity of media ownership in Australia.

Typography & Ruddy colour

Pegasus, Kevin Rudd on his website does not know anything about typography or about colour schemes or connection between items to lead the viewer. He uses condenced, bold and extended types.

He has red, white and blue and then mixes yellow into it. Does the yellow mean something like the "yellow" Chinese? He does not know that space beteen images is essential. The site shouts at the viewer. He also has a photo of himself with his hands to his lips as if shouting. Maybe in parliament he thinks he is not heard. He is overlooked, and has been overlooked as leader.

His attitude would be very "British" or conservative and yet he has spent a lot of time in China with the Chinese.

It would be good to know if he treats the Chinese as an equal or as below the status of whites and he is helping them.

The ALP logo is all blue with the southern cross but Kevin puts over half of the map of Australia the Union Jack of Great Britain. The Union Jack on our flag is only a quarter of it.

Kevin may also not like his physical image. He has a round head like Bert Newton, and Kevin's photo is condensed on computer to make him look thin-faced.

In his contact address Kevin has misspelled Wynum Rd (Wynnum Rd) Morningside.

The webmaster sees that misspelled word every day and it is not corrected. If Kevin's interest is China, one way to deal with Kevin is to get an Asian Australian to contact him.

Australia has changed

Frances, Australia has changed. We are no longer radical and our youth are no longer radical. They are very conservative and the nation now dislikes radical change. John Howard keeps stuffing up and Australians keep voting for him. I can't understand it. I and a lot of people on this website are not the 'average' Australian. We are extra-ordinary.

The Australian nation has been Americanised, and many Australian only care about themselves and no one else.

Today was a special Day in the past. May 24 is Empire Day. It is the birthday of Queen Victoria, May 24, 1837. When we were kids we had bonfires, bungers, crackers, sparklers. We even blew up letter boxes and shot out electric light globes with bunger guns to celebrate the world-wide exploration of the British Empire. Bonfires were alight all over Sydney in the past and some of those fires were 40 ft high with oil and tyres. It would never happen in today's world. We once were radical. Now all that is left of the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth Games and the so-called Commonwealth Bank that was once the bank of the people. Now it is a corporation like any other bank.

The people need to be awakened again. The average Australian has fallen asleep because he and she is on the treadmill just trying to keep his and her chin above the house mortgage... and many marriages break, and that does nothing for confidence of trying to change the system.

Maybe on day the Empire will strike back. The world's languange is Engish because the British settled the world with convicts. Many of us feel we are getting back to those days of when we were in chains.

The Dome

I too Frances am risking being boorish.

The Dome is not a strategy for any particular issue, but for democratic culture and fabric.

I had a look through the placards on the Dome, but couldn't find one about Citizen Initiated Referenda or People's Referenda, as you put it. Might I suggest that you find a federal politician - actually it can even be a candidate for the last election - to place a placard, "We need to legislate for People's Referenda", and then to lobby individual politicians and candidates to vote for it. By all means use this website's name if that's useful. I hope some others here join you, and if you do get a placard up I'll be adding it to my list of things I'd like my representatives to be supporting.

Myriad, describing the 'scattergun approach' to politics that appears to be occuring (on the web in general, I'd argue), wrote,

The trouble with politics is so much happens so quickly, and at the same time we are all trying to build this website via participation - one eg, Jack Smit starting to blog here - I think it's terrific, and of course it's got my brain racing off about Immigration again etc. But wait, we were going to target cross-media ownership! but there's real pressure on Vanstone / Howard over mandatory detention & deportation at the moment! What about Industrial Relations reforms?

Well yes, some focus would be good. But a scattergun of issues can still all focus on the Dome - a piece of democractic infrastructure useful to all citizens and issues - and so even the real pet-issue owners can be adding to the whole.

Another broad reason to promote the Dome at this time, directly or incidentally, is that we are very early in the electoral cycle. This is not the best time to threaten politicians with their seats as the election is ages away, and it is also the time, outside the limelight of an election campaign, that politicians will be loosest with their pledges. Every opinion we get noted on the Dome is potential material for the next election campaign, and every political campaign until then.

I am not arguing that more focus on particular issues would not be good, and should not continue to be an objective. One problem to date, as Myriad also noted, is that there are not large enough numbers of active members to focus properly on two, three or more of these issues at a time, as we should as they all very much concern democracy in different ways. We're growing, and I suspect that there's a few lurkers taking their time to emerge from the woodwork, so hopefully that will change. But the energy that is here, networked and communicating well, can do what it does meanwhile, as we continue to develop the site.

In short, the Dome can focus our scattered salvos at changing and moving targets, and give them a coherence and consistency.

Strategy II and the Dome

Apologies everyone. I misread the title of this forum as Strategy II, but it seems it is about the Dome.I just looked at the link and it appears (to me anyhow) that it is confused with U.S. issues. I selected Australia as the country in the drop-down menu and it made a slight difference. But what is the relevance of "UNDER GOD should remain in the pledge". Is that a cross-posting or is the system just crazy?

reply to Frances

Hi Frances. Well the original post was about the Dome and cross-media ownership, but I did not mean to indicate that your post was anything but entirely appropriate. I was just taking the opportunity to make a point about what I had already been speaking of. Sorry if there was any misunderstanding on that front.

The Dome was designed in Australia and so far operates only for New South Wales, Federal Australia and the United Kingdom. It is set up so that more parliaments can have their own Dome set up. If anyone wanted to take up getting one going in another state, that would be great. It would be an interesting task.

So where you got to was entirely Australian - I'm assuming it was here. I had a browse and couldn't find, "UNDER GOD should remain in the pledge", but if it's there it was put there by an Australian parliamentarian or candidate, and I have no idea why.

That's not the DOME

Francis, It is clear you are not looking at the DOME (but other public Opinion Market polls run on the BigPulse site). The global DOME home page is or see for the Parliament of Australia DOME.

Welcome Frances

Hey Frances, so good to see another person posting. Welcome and may all your ideas be nuggets. By what you have written so far I think they might be!

I have a vision (nightmare perhaps) of everyone having access to voting on important issues via an internet type system thus costing very little. I think the current % of Australians using the net is about 30% (correct if known please) so I also see a need for some publicly available access, not queuing up at libraries, something more practical.

There's a million holes in that thought of mine, the obvious one being the potential to corrupt results without even trying.

The other thing is when I hear governments and organisations saying that such and such can be done on the net, they have no idea obviously how few actually use the net. Even those on the net are again divided into those who use email and do banking only which I suspect is the majority of net users.

To me there is an urgent need for our government to provide both access and training for the net for all as there are so many savings that could be made using such. Plus those without are becoming more in the dark by the day as media moves away from traditional methods.

Of course there are much more deserving issues first, this is a down the track thought I guess, prompted again by your referenda thought.

You mention that there are people's referenda in Europe. I didn't know that. I know little about other countries systems and indeed the more I look the more I realise I don't know about our own. Could you either point to a link or two or just expand as it interests me.

As to politicians promises, if were old English I might blurt out "Caw!" to most of what they say.

I am fiercely cynical about politics (Beattie in QLD uses the word fiercely to stress how trustworthy he is) and deeply believe most of what goes on is described in the Yes Minister and PM series. Indeed I think most current strategies come straight from those plots. I got copies off the net so I could read them and it really is so close to be eerie. Except we don't laugh any more, it's serious.

Another thought, maybe people on this site could combine ideas about how elections etc should be contructed, the process and the results etc. This might clarify what we all think as opposed to what we think we know. And it might be fun. What do you think? A What we Want type forum maybe?

Again, welcome and keep typing please!



Hey Hamish, there are apparently four Liberal backbenchers making public statements about changing the policy on refugees and I hear also drafting or presenting amendments for consideration.

Maybe YD could use them as an official intro as a group. Solidarity etc? Looks like they might be open. What do you think?


Hamish: Good thinking I reckon. What are their names?

Opening 2

Hey Hamish, are you interested in the idea or would you prefer I do it myself, in my words?

You know my thoughts on acting as a group. To me if we are all writing as individuals there is little point having a site with supposed joint aims etc?

I'm happy to draft something but again you won't like it as we all prefer our own writing to anothers. I'm also happy to send it but again how can I write as a member here and give the impression that all members agree with whatever I write.

If you have a timeframe for acting as a group, please say so. If you don't intend to act as a group, also please say so. I simply would like to be aware of whatever the strategy is so that I can decide as an individual whether I support such or not.

I'm just keen to have something done as a group as I see failure in any other approach. If I am again jumping the gun it's because I have no idea what you are thinking except it seems that we should all act as individuals.

No offence.

Back Benchers

Hey Hamish, the MP's names are: Petro Georgiou, Bruce Baird, Russell Broadbent and Judi Moylan. As per the Australian today

Backbench revolt on detention

I hear on the radio that young JH is livid about the break in ranks. hope they all make it through the night.

By the by, I didn't note your request for names or I would not have posted the below.

As another aside, I note I can edit the below post but not the one you added a comment to. Is there a period in which amendment is enabled? I hadn't noticed it before.


opening 3

We should act both as individuals and as a group.

Re: Opening?

Pegasus, one of the MPs talking about changes to mandatory detention laws for asylum seekers is Judi Moylan. Perhaps letters of congratulations and support to her and the other recently enlightened Liberals would be helpful?

We have to remember though that these sort of backbench revolts usually go nowhere.

They are usually put down ruthlessly by the party hatchetmen such as Abbott.

A very clever tactic used by backbenchers of all parties is to pick an issue which goes against the party/government's line and oppose it in the media. After the sought after publicity has been received they then back down in the interests of party solidarity or fade quietly into the background, knowing they have planted the seed in the public's mind that they oppose that line/policy.

Nothing will have changed, but they will have pulled a few votes more for the next election.

There's a very nasty word to describe this practice. It's called POLITICS.

re: backbenchers

Hi Pegasus. I'm writing to them now, from Your Democracy.

Subject to feedback (be quick) I'm going to congratulate them on their stance, invite them to make their view known in the Dome (either by supporting the existing placard, "Justice for refugees and asylum seekers" or by wording their own about mandatory detention policy), and also make them welcome to this site to make their views known on any issue.

But this will only mean more if individuals like yourself write your own letters, in your own words, to express what you want to express. Any mention of this site, the Dome or even just the importance of democratic institutions, helps the effort here.

If any of these Liberal backbenchers are your own rep, write to them immediately as a constituent. Otherwise consider writing to them anyway, or to your own representative encouraging more support for them.

Petro Georgiou (Kooyong, Vic)
695 Burke Road
Hawthorn East Vic 3123

Bruce Baird (Cook, NSW)
PO BOX 819
Caringbah NSW 1495

Russell Broadbent (McMillan, Vic)
10A Napier Street
Warragul Vic 3820

Judi Moylan (Pearce, WA)
PO Box 1005
Midland WA 6936

Note that these are their office addresses and they're all in Canberra at the moment, so you may just wish to address to:
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

I agree Gus, we have to work as individuals and as a group.


I agee, schitzophrenia has always been my way of expression. I would really fit in then to all people as well as myself because when I write to myself I will then be writing to Hamish and then as well as to the group and I can then kill three birds with two stones and satsfy all four of us and the group as well.

Re: Both

Len all three of you are probably right.

But if a peg falls from the line and there is no one there to see it - will anyone know that the grundies now hang askew?

Will the suspect learn his future by reading history backwards?

Whatever the case, you are often a breath of fresh air Len. Keep up the good work.

New placard's first vote

Hey Hamish, I just paid a visit to the Dome and noticed that we have our first vote for "Support laws that ensure diversity of media ownership in Australia". Bruce Carnwell of the Democrats (Griffith, Qld) has voted in favour.

Ralph McKay writes

Thanks Sally.

Ralph McKay has just posted the following letter to all Federal Parliamentarians. I'll follow, and am working on a press release to follow that.


Dear Parliamentarian,

The Dome of Conscience, the online voting chamber for parliamentarians operating at, is gathering momentum.

In this letter:
  • promoting the DOME
  • UK Parliament DOME launched, 55 join, House Magazine report
  • 147 in Parliament of Australia DOME
  • How the DOME works
  • Start creating your online vote history in the DOME
  • How to start voting promoting the DOME

The edemocracy blog site

has made the DOME of Conscience a central feature of its site and is inviting all public interest groups to do the same. Shortly, Yourdemocracy will invite all parliamentarians to start voting in the DOME and start to issue media releases. It means you can expect many more people to be watching for your votes in the DOME and many more noticing who is not voting in the DOME.

UK Parliament DOME launched, 55 join, House Magazine report

The UK Parliament DOME was launched 14 days before the May 5 election. See 55 candidates and MPs are participating already. The following report appeared in the UK Parliament House Magazine following a submission by Labour member Derek Wyatt MP.

“The UK Dome of Conscience, part of a global initiative to give an insight into each of the world’s parliaments and national assemblies, is now open. The DOME has been donated to the House of Commons by Sydney-based e-democracy group,

In the DOME, all elected officials and candidates have equal power to set the voting agenda and to represent their constituents. Lawmakers can see where their colleagues stand on the issues of the day, and people see how their representatives and candidates are thinking at any time.
Visit and

Great news

Hey Hamish, this is excellent news. One step at a time and hopefully it will snowball and roll on and over. We can hope mate!

Let's know when the press release goes out, I look forward to hearing you on ABC radio chatting about it, as long as you don't mention all our foibles! Jesting.

Then on to the big time, Current Affair and it's clone! Better catch up on all the diet, fad and weirdo news so you can chat to them off camera! Again, jesting.

Seriously many congrats for a job well done as it is feeling very good to me, and I hope others too.



Activist Toolbox

I am supposed to be implementing some new functionality for YD which can more easily enable site visitors to act on the information and debate which is hosted on this site. The initial pitch was for an Activist Toolbox  which would allow us to collate:

  • Events (protests, meetings, etc)

  • Form letters (to politicians, papers, etc)

  • Polls

  • etc

From a technical aspect there isn't anything too tricky here, so now we need to discuss how this will all work. I think the first functionality should be the form letters. Here are a few notes I have on how I think they should work:

  1. Every blog or forum post be able to become a campaign, by an admin or blogger turning on the functionality for that thread.

  2. Be able to maintain a site wide contact list of politicians, papers and public figures, categorised by state, and electorate.

  3. Have site users be able to append to this list for specific campaigns

  4. Have site users be able to supply paragraphs or whole letters to a campaign.

  5. When the user wants to send a letter:

    1. They can browse through and select the paragraphs which they like.

    2. Then they are taken to an editor where they can rearrange and edit the letter by hand.

    3. Finally they select the people they are sending the letter to, and they method (email or snail mail). For snail mail a formatted screen or PDF can be displayed for printing.

The actual toolbox, when activate, will appear as a block on the right hand side of the post.

What do we all think?