10 November 2005 : A live scoreboard of issues before the parliament


Letter to 809 Australian parliamentarians

Open letter to all state and federal parliamentarians.

Dear Parliamentarian,

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more than half of all voters do not know the name of their local member of parliament. I asked Malcolm Mackerras if he was aware of any published research on this. He recalled, "Some years ago there was some research showing that about 75 per cent of voters could not name their local federal member."

If most of your constituents do not know your name, how many know your stand on the issues? Are you content with this situation? Are you proud to have been elected through a process that attempts to quantify disinterest? How strong is this democracy?

You contribute to the policy debate in the party room, the chamber, committees and by direct contact with ministers of the Crown, the media and some constituents. All essential but not enough to really engage the public. What is missing? Imagine a major sporting event where the scoreboard was hidden from view. The public would soon lose interest. A live, transparent, scoreboard of issues before the parliament does not exist. If it did many more would be engaged. It may make a dramatic difference.

How will you respond if presented with an immediate opportunity to create such a scoreboard of issues before the parliament? You have been presented with such an opportunity twice in the last month. It is called the DOME of Conscience. Perhaps you missed it. It involves no expense to you or the tax payer, just a minute or two of your time each month to vote in it. How could those few minutes be better invested?

No one knows what this scoreboard will look like. It has never been tried before in any parliament. However, the technology is in place, many have studied the idea and expressed interest. Some have voted. Everyone with whom I have spoken in the public and media has expressed excitement about this idea. Yet sadly no one believes the parliaments will adopt the idea as simple and honest as it is. This, of course, is the cynicism that only you can dispel.

Right now history is recording who responds to this initiative and who does not. Your DOME votes are a permanent record of your stand on the issues of the day and the date at which you first responded. Your name along with over 800 other lawmakers already appears in the DOME with the date of your last vote in the Who's Voting page. Don't hold back waiting to see who votes first. In this forum everyone is a parliamentarian, an elected community leader. People will not expect leaders to be standing back waiting for others to set an example.

To understand how the DOME works and why everyone has equal control over the voting agenda please read my earlier letter. Note the automatic sign-in links do not work in this online version of my earlier letter. To access the forum use this vote now link which will sign you in automatically.

Also notice the two new single issue polls titled Industrial Relations Legislation and Anti-terror Legislation now open in the DOME poll menu ready for the first opinions to be submitted.

To get a glimpse of how a DOME can look with a few more voters visit www.ukdome.com and see candidates for the UK Parliament voting in the DOME in the leadup to the May 05 election.

For the history of this initiative see the DOME home page at www.domevote.com. It mentions the launch in the Federal Parliament, some of the people who have voted in it and others who expressed public support.

It's the DOME-ocracy Of Mass Enlightenment.

Ralph McKay
Founder -- DOME of Conscience