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Power to the People

Max Rashbrooke VUW Image Services

Power to the People

It takes a good crisis to shift a system. COVID-19 sure has given us a cracking one. With the figurative ladder pulled out from under us, it’s time to have a serious discussion about the direction we want to take as a community. And more importantly, who gets to make those key decisions that affect us all. Each one of us has a voice. Each voice provides a unique perspective on how we can rebuild. Each perspective helps shape robust decisions that are more likely to be the right one. Research has shown that teams outperform individual decision-makers 66% of the time but diverse teams (age, youth, gender, location, heritage etc.) make better decisions 87% of the time. The principle is that good decisions are made by many brains – not big brains.

Our current democratic system fails to follow this logic. We vote for a person/party who we believe best represents our views. Once the ballots are counted, we’re either in the winner’s box or feel disenfranchised and frustrated at not backing the right horse. The last two decades have seen a continuous slide in voter turnout at elections due to lack of interest in the system. This is in particular with young voters who look at the line up and often see no one who represents their voice (one way to skew the outcome I guess).  Direct action, can end in the upsurge of political protest, and has become the new modus operandi to try and have our collective voice heard. Decision making is left up to a few, where diversity is rarely around the table, and consultation with the community often comes after the fact, too late to have any real influence on policy. As research has demonstrated, this is likely to result in poor decision making. The interests of the community and environment are often side-lined leading to an increase in distrust between the elected officials and the community.

As part of the RESET Summit 2020, One New Zealand is hosting an evening with Max Rashbrooke, to talk about the future of democracy. Following on from Max’s last visit to the district in 2019, this conversation takes a look at the next steps we need to take to get more and diverse voices around the decision making table. It provides an opportunity to collectively ask ourselves how we can create a democratic system based on our common values and shared vision, consensus building, truly equitable representation that captures all of our diverse thinking and voices. Only then will we increase our chances of making some really good decisions. 

Max is a Wellington-based writer with twin interests in economic inequality and democratic participation, and is currently the 2020 J. D. Stout Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.
Event partners include Ignite Wanaka, LINK Upper Clutha, Sustainable Queenstown, Catalyst and Shaping Our Future. 

Power to the People – Next Steps
When Thursday 30th July @ 7pm
Where Queenstown Memorial Hall
Cost $15:00