Quite a number of government engagement processes are now under way as all three levels of government gradually shift into post-Covid recovery mode.
Climate change policy once again hangs in the balance as our governments, keen to revitalize their economies, develop and implement their recovery strategies. Here are some public consultations that are under way. Time to get pens out!
[Note that deadlines for the above processes are at various stages. Please open the links to find out more. There has also been some confusion about the status of Hobart Council’s Climate Strategy. We are advised that a new draft paper, entitled: ‘Sustainable Hobart Action Plan: Responding to Climate Change’ is due to be released in the near future. ]
But first… a call for transparency.
Let’s face it, what happens to your submissions?
We write many submissions to many government processes and doing this takes an extraordinary amount of volunteer time and effort. Is it worth it?
Unfortunately the answer is sometimes probably not. Not that we would discourage democratic input in engagement processes that are truly genuine and transparent. However, many concerned people are reporting that they have little confidence in the transparency of some government consultation processes.
The problem is, public engagements are too often ritualised and there’s often very little published as to whether your submissions are read, analyzed and taken seriously.
In some cases there’s little evidence that public submissions are processed at all. In other cases agencies have gone to great lengths to demonstrate genuine engagement and transparency.
We assert that at the very least that every relevant government and agency has a duty to not just publish and acknowledge submissions, but to report in detail what citizens are concerned about and what they are recommending, and why their recommendations are and aren’t acted upon.
In the absence of such a robust process citizens are left with an abiding sense that their collective submissions – worked up and delivered in good faith – are thrown onto a shelf.
Meanwhile, we do urge you to have your say and congratulate all those concerned people who take time to put their thoughts to paper regardless of the confidence in the process.
Advice when writing submissions:
- A major part of every submission should stress the need for transparency of the process first up, especially if this is doubtful. Raising this issue is often more important to democratic process than are pages of policy ideas that may never see the light of day.
- It’s usually recommended to keep your submission short and instantly readable. Try to keep your cover page to your major conclusion or concerns and append necessary detail.
- Stress the need for urgency
Many political and science commentators are presently pointing out interlinkages between recent catastrophic events and the need to radically change the way we do things.
- Don’t forget media!
Having invested all that writing and thinking effort, please don’t stop there. If you can boil your concerns down to main points, promote these by including them in letters to papers, media releases and social media posts. This will often be far more effective than just writing screeds into a nebulous process.