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Good governance should be based on an appropriate system of setting priorities.  It should not be based on the ideologies of the political party of the day or limited to the most effective political campaigns.

Many of the people that I know are involved in running campaigns for the causes that they consider are important.  This is a matter of strategy.  With limited resources, people choose campaigns that they think have some chance of success.  They are targeted to get the attention of the public.  Iconic species are chosen.  Emotions are stirred.  Catching campaign names are promoted.

While there have been successes in this approach, such as saving the Franklin River in Tasmania, the drivers remain that cause the problems in the first place.  A few campaigns may be successful, but the decline in the condition of the planet continues.

To some degree governments are relying on special interest groups to set some of the priorities.  If they yield on some of the campaigns they can achieve some level of public appeasement without having a proper process to determine priorities themselves.  It is a bit like letting the market set the priorities.

Good governance, in my view, would start by recognising the most important issues and establish principles for addressing these and setting appropriate priorities.

The most important issues would include the following:

  • Over-population
  • Carbon emission and climate change
  • Degradation of the environment
  • Rapid declines in biodiversity due to continued loss of natural habitat
  • Food, water and energy security and distribution across the globe
  • Conflict between cultures and religious groups
  • Inequity between nations and within them

There should also be agreement on the guiding principles for addressing these issues.  These would include:

  • Achieving long-term solutions, such as for 50 years and beyond
  • The needs of minority groups are to be met
  • Planning requires gathering and analysis of appropriate information
  • The whole community involved in decisions needs to be consulted
  • All options are to be considered without prejudice
  • All negotiations need to be made with mutual respect and without provocation

What I am trying to envisage is a system of governance that starts with these.  Currently we have a system based on the immediate concerns of an electorate that is ignoring the broader issues.  The role of governments should be to inform and educate the community of the broadest issues and to involve them in developing the solutions.

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