At the outset of establishing the new Australian Democrats political movement, the National Executive were and remain committed to establishing processes that ensure the Party is responsive to its members and preserves democracy. We value the insight, experiences and voices of our members.
The Australian Democrats supports the incorporation of rigorous evidence-based practice into public policymaking. Public policy should be informed by reliable advice, both before it is implemented, and after, to monitor its efficiency and effectiveness.
All too often, misinformation, vested interests and ideological sentiment get in the way of pragmatic processes to develop robust policies that are grounded in fact and reason.
This is why the Australian Democrats will develop positions that are created from:
1. Understanding the problem. Allow for proper consideration of the nature of the issue and of different policy options.
2. Good data and research. Use up-to-date, relevant and non-biased research.
3. Stakeholders. Commit to being informed by and considerate of stakeholders both inside and outside of the Party structure
4. Transparency. It must be contested and tested.
5. Patience. Detailed research, involving data gathering and the testing of evidence can’t be done overnight. Too often policies are rushed.
6. Independence. Given unavoidable need for judgement in evaluation, evidence is more likely to be robust if it is not subjected to influence and ideology.
7. Receptive. Even the best evidence is of little value if it’s ignored or not available when it is needed. A process that begins with a question rather than an answer, and that has foundations to support such inquiry.
8. Encourage innovation. Build on theory and existing research to develop new ways to address specific program or policy challenges.
9. Monitor policy effectiveness. Continually evaluate the impact the policy is making, with the help of a growing and engaged membership
The National Executive will continue to refine mechanisms for policy development on an ongoing basis. All policies will be developed in line with The Principles of the Australian Democrats, enshrined in the Constitution.
We remain committed to participatory democratic processes. In this we aim to provide opportunity for all members to participate in the process of the Party and especially in developing and refining policy.
We are committed to a process of continuous learning in policy development, and providing a longer-term framework for robust policy development and consultation as reflected in the figure below.
Our policies will be developed in consideration of the need for robust consultation.
All members will be given the opportunity to participate in policy development and all policy will be voted on by the members to approve the policy. A vote of 50+1 is required. As well as this, we commit to consulting with experts in their field, who can provide specialised evidence, best-practice models and recommendations.
We are fundamentally committed to resist populist and reactive policy pressure and ensure that policy and process is founded on credible evidence, and in keeping with our principles.
Members will have several mechanisms to participate in policy development through consultation, researching, drafting and approving policies.
All members have the right to contact their State Executive, National Executive or Policy Coordinator to initiate a policy assessment. This can be done at any stage however, some policy areas will be given priority over others. Members will always be responded to and given a justification why.
Our commitment is to be open to hearing evidence and reviewing positions, and making amendments and changes to reflect new information. If our facts are incorrect or incomplete – please tell us!
Please ensure that your comments can be supported and justified with evidence. We will not accept ideological views and opinions not based on fact.
You are now invited to read our policy drafts and provide feedback.
The consultation period for each draft is outlined on the policy. After the closing date, feedback will be collated by the Policy Working Group who will make amendments as appropriate. Policies will then be put to members for ratification.
POLICY REFERENCES AND FRAMING STATEMENTS
The Australian Democrats policy development relies on being able to demonstrate not only what our policy is, but also (and arguably more importantly), being able to explain why our policy is what it is - evidence-based policy making.
Therefore, we have documented Policy Framing Statements to explain the scope and context of the information and ideas that inform our policies.
These Framing Statements in effect become our policy reference. They inform and explain the current suite of policies and will serve as the foundation for future policy development. Like our policies, they will be reviewed and refined on an ongoing basis. You are welcome to provide feedback on these as well.
We reiterate these are not policies, they are the references behind them.