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Week 3

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  • 1. Government-Business Relations 1004PPP Week 3: Democracy at Work
  • 2. Lecture Outline
    • What is democracy?
    • How parliamentary liberal democracies work:
      • Parliaments
      • Executives
      • Government in Australia
    • Democracy and the media
  • 3. Democracy – what is it?
    • YouTube - The coming of democracy to ancient Athens
    • Etymology: demos (people); kratos (rule)
    • But what is rule by the people?:
      • Who are the people?
      • How should they rule?
      • How extensive should their rule be?
    • Compare & contrast ancient and modern:
      • Direct vs. Representative democracy
      • Popular vs. Liberal democracy
  • 4. Functions of Parliaments
    • YouTube - Best Taiwanese Parliament Fights Of All Time!
    • Representation; understood in two different ways:
      • As a mirror or ‘microcosm’ of society (see identity politics)
      • Deliberative – representing the interests of ‘the nation’ as a whole; representatives as ‘trustees’
    • Legislation
      • Traditional role in constitutional theory
      • However, today most legislatures do not legislate much
      • Most legislation originates in the executive and is only processed in the legislature
      • Cont…
  • 5.
    • Making governments
      • In parliamentary systems, the govt. emanates from the legislature
      • The govt. must retain the confidence of the legislature to survive and govern
    • Scrutiny
      • Legislatures are responsible for overseeing the executive:
        • Parliamentary questions
        • Emergency debates
        • Committee investigations
  • 6. Is Parliament in Decline?
    • The growth of organised political parties and mass electorates has diminished the role of the individual representative
    • Changes in the nature of laws – more legislation and more technical legislation (parliaments cannot review effectively)
    • Growth of organised interests
      • Traditionally targeted parliament
      • Now often by-pass government and go direct to the executive
    • Mass media ( more on this later ...)
      • Has concentrated public attention and interest on heads of government rather than parliaments
      • I.e. made politics more about leadership and personality, namely presidential
  • 7. Functions of Executives
    • Historic core of government since legislatures and judiciaries come later as restraints on the actions of executives (Kings)
    • In constitutional theory, to execute, or carry out, the laws
    • In practice, the state apparatus executes laws
    • Therefore, today executives lead rather than ‘execute’ – ‘the seat of authoritative power’:
      • To provide direction for national policy
      • To oversee the implementation of policy
      • To mobilise support for its policies
      • Ceremonial leadership/charismatic authority
      • Crisis leadership
  • 8. Parliament in Australia
    • Australian Federal Parliament has 2 Houses – House of Representatives (Lower) and Senate (Upper)
  • 9. The House of Representatives
    • Holds 150 seats
    • The political party that wins a majority of these
    • becomes the government
    • Seats are allocated to States by population (e.g. Tas 5; NSW 49)
    • Most bills (aiming to become laws) originate here
    • The Prime Minister and senior ministers (Cabinet) and the Leader of the Opposition, by convention, sit in this House
    • Elections to this House are held at least every 3 years
  • 10. The Senate
    • Originally intended as the “States’ House”
    • Holds 76 seats, 12 each state + 2 from Territories
    • Equal representation regardless of State’s population…
    • … Violation of majority rule?
    • Senators are elected to 6 year terms
    • Constitutionally almost equal in power to Reps
    • Because of electoral system, governments rarely control the Senate
    • But when they do it becomes a “rubber stamp”
    • Is an upper house necessary?
  • 11. The Executive: The Power of the Prime Minister
    • Selection of Ministers (Cabinet Govt.)
    • Control of Cabinet (Chair)
    • Setting of the political/policy agenda
    • Has almost guaranteed support of the party and the parliament as leader of majority party
    • Exercise of patronage (appointments)
    • But, power limited by Constitution; HC; Senate
  • 12. Democracy and the Media
  • 13. Media as the “Fourth Estate”
    • Media links governors and the governed
    • Informs voters
    • Checks government power
      • YouTube - The Watergate Affair (Part 1)
      • YouTube - Nixon Disses the Press
    • Scrutinises policies and performance
    • Is an extension of right to freedom of speech
    • Produced the ‘demonstration effect’ behind the ‘Third Wave’ of democracy?
  • 14. The Power of the Media
    • Reflects or Shapes Public Opinion?
      • YouTube - Outfoxed: Fox News: Everything in Iraq is great!
    • Fuels cynicism towards politics and unpopularity of politicians?
    • Shared interest with political elites in the ‘politics of fear’?
    • Evident in the advertising budgets of large corporations ( Over US$ 1 billion each for the 10 biggest spenders says Greenpeace)
    • Baudrillard: The Gulf war never happened!
      • YouTube - First Gulf War
  • 15. How Politicians Use the Media
    • Policy promotion
    • Election campaigning
    • “ Media advisers” and “spin doctors”
    • But media also need politicians
    • Who has the upper hand? ...
  • 16. British New Labour Party and the Media
    • Tony Blair, British PM, in 1994 on his campaign to become party leader: “ You have got to understand that the only thing that matters in this campaign is the media. The media, the media and the media.”
    • Blair: “ How we treat Rupert Murdoch’s media interests when in power will depend on how his newspapers treat the Labour Party in the run-up to the election and after we are in government.”
  • 17. Media Tycoons - Murdoch
    • News Ltd has interests in over 100 newspapers in Australia and 68% of capital city and national newspaper market
    • Owns most influential papers in Melbourne and Sydney
    • Owns only newspapers in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin
    • Also has interests in AAP with Fairfax and a 25 percent stake in Foxtel
  • 18. The Power of the Media Barons
    • “ Some newspapers exist simply to promote the political goals of their proprietors…” (Bartle 2006).
    • But are they more interested in profits than politics?
    • Their profits in part depend on politics, e.g. cross-media ownership laws
  • 19. Media Ownership Policy
    • Cross-media laws (from 1986) affected TV, radio and newspaper ownership
    • Howard Government used control of the Senate to weaken these restrictions
    • Will these new laws reduce diversity in content or just diversity in ownership ?

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