What is the public interest in Australia?
In a society which is increasingly dominated by a culture of materialism and self-interest at corporate and business levels and even at the personal level we have accepted for the purposes of this project a definition of the public interest as the ‘long-term welfare and wellbeing of the general population’.
Why does the public interest matter?
Australia is currently experiencing a period of significant political change. Both of the major political parties are firmly preoccupied with economic growth and the health of the corporate sector but both seem more interested in re-election than the courageous articulation and implementation of policies that will maximise public good. There has been decline in the stature of and respect for political parties and for religious organisations in Australian society, and our culture has been altered both by neoliberal economic orthodoxy and by globalisation. These trends have resulted in a substantial increase in the power and influence of multinational business corporations and other vested interests.
What Australia21 is doing
In recent discussions the Board of Australia21 identified public interest and its defence as an issue requiring a new national focus. The essay collection “Who speaks for and protects the public interest in Australia?” is the first stage of a project aimed at strengthening a focus on public interest in Australian policy decisions. The collection includes the ideas of 39 leading thinkers, policy makers and activists. The essays touch on a wide range of topics including the public interest in asylum seeker policy, Indigenous futures, the environment, education and inequality. They also look at what is ailing in Australian democracy and suggest some people focused remedies.
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