The Third Sector and Democracy in Australia: Neoliberal Governance and the Repression of Advocacy

Ruth Phillips, Ian Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pluralism is a key component of liberal democracy, ensuring that diverse groups of citizens have opportunities to contribute to the governance of their society. Third sector organisations (TSOs) are central to pluralist democracy, representing diverse interests through advocacy. Advocacy has many forms but the most visible are protests or public demonstrations aimed at widespread public engagement. However, curtailing advocacy capacity for TSOs has been a political objective of conservative governments for several decades, with the Morrison-led Liberal/National Party government re-engaging in this behaviour. The article illuminates this behaviour through a case study of a recent legislative proposal (2021) to limit TSO advocacy. A qualitative discourse analysis of government and parliamentary materials shows how the state masked proposed changes through an illiberal and populist tactic that narrowed the focus to a narrative of ‘trust’ and uncertainty lacking an evidentiary basis and despite recognition of the potential impact on Australian democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-423
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Volume58
Issue number4
Early online date23 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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