Deliberative democracy. Professor Lyn Carson on “Ockham’s Razor” (ABC Radio)

Professor Lyn Carson from the Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney talks about using deliberative democracy to solve the world’s ‘wicked problems’.


Robyn Williams: Australian politics now resembles a football match out of control. One huge punch-up, with the referee powerless (very nearly off the field) and the people in the stands, that’s us, irrelevant. We just pay the bills, and the brawl goes on. Goodwill, courtesy, trying to get things done, all forgotten.

So is there another way?

Yes, according to Professor Lyn Carson at the Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney. So what could it be?

Lyn Carson: Our world is facing immense challenges, and these difficult problems transcend state or national borders.

Intractable problems, sometimes called wicked problems, require more than one agency or one government to fix them. They may be too big for governments to handle alone.

These are issues like populating growth, or the health of our river systems.

It can be political suicide for a government to take on the world’s intractable problems because politics, by nature, is driven by short-term interests and election cycles. Wicked problems, in contrast, often take generations to surface, and require drastic, long-term measures to solve them.

Arguably, the most significant problem that’s facing us today is climate change. And we can clearly see the evidence of government passing the buck, and avoiding the issues. When it does tackle the issue, for example, through carbon pricing, we watch helplessly as a parliamentary committee argues over targets. We see the real difficulty of putting a price on pollution when it’s reduced to a slanging match about taxes and exemptions.

For the full transcript and to download the interview (audio) click HERE.

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