Strengthening democracy

There are strong links between climate and environmental action and a robust democracy. To get the best environmental outcomes, we need broad participation in decision-making, and strong environmental laws, transparency and access to information, and to ensure that government decisions are not influenced by private interests.

Reducing industry influence

Donations, sponsored dinners, events and invitations to sporting events, and offers of post-parliamentary jobs in the fossil fuel sector can have a significant influence over the decisions made by politicians.  The disproportionate influence of the fossil fuel sector goes a long way to explain Australia’s record of stalled climate action and approval of destructive projects.

Cleaning up politics is essential to ensure that decisions about how we manage the environment are evidence-based and made in the public interest, not the interests of donors.

What’s been happening?

What’s coming up?
  • 30 April 2024 – Senate inquiry report on lobbyists’ access to parliament released
  • Mid 2024 – government Bill to introduce donations reforms to be debated, with emphasis on how the proposed reforms apply independents, minor parties and NGOs.
  • Mid 2024 – government to consult on a draft Integrity Strategy for the Commonwealth Public Sector
  • 6 June 2024 – submissions due on rules to engage community in planning decisions (SA)

What is the AEGN doing?
  • Keeping members updated on any proposed changes to political donation laws
  • Profiling civil society organisations working on democracy issues

What can AEGN members do?
  • Encourage your MP to voluntarily publish details of donations, sponsored pass holders, and meetings
  • Be transparent about any political donations or meetings you or organisations you work with have with MPs

    Current Clearinghouse projects:

Whistleblowers & protest activity  

Too often, people working in companies or government departments who witness unlawful conduct or environmentally damaging behaviour put themselves at serious risk if they disclose the conduct. The personal and professional cost of coming forward can mean that misconduct goes unchecked, governments are not held accountable, and the environment suffers. 

Protections for whistleblowers, advocates and people engaging in protest activities improve transparency, accountability and public debate.

What’s been happening?

  • State governments continue to introduce tough laws criminalising protest activity, particularly targeted at climate and forest protests
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders issued a position paper on protest activities
  • The HRLC launched a Whistleblower Project, initially focused on environment and climate whistleblowers
  • Transparency International, HRLC and Griffith Uni released draft design principles for a Whistleblower Protection Authority
  • The Attorney-General released a consultation paper on reforms to the Public Interest Disclosures Act to better protect whistleblowers
  • The Australian Democracy Network and the Human Rights Law Centre released a Declaration of the Right to Protest, a set of 10 principles that all governments and their agencies must follow to protect protest

What’s coming up?

What is the AEGN doing?
  • Keeping members informed of proposed legislative changes
  • Sharing resources about the Whistleblower Project
  • Hosting expert briefings on protest laws
What can AEGN members do?

Become a member

It’s been exciting to see the growth in sophistication of how the AEGN operates. For the benefit of all.

Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation