Speaker of the House of Commons delivers speech to Australian Parliament

30 September 2014

The Speaker of the House of Commons, as part of his visit to Australia, delivered a speech in Canberra on 30 September 2014 at the Australian Parliament considering Representative Democracy in the Digital Age and the challenges the digital revolution creates for modern democratic institutions of all forms, primarily legislatures.

He called for a re-connection between the citizen and legislators. The Rt Hon John Bercow commented:

'Representative democracy as a concept does not command the consensus that it once enjoyed. The principal impact of the technological revolution which we have witnessed over the past twenty years has actually been to bring people closer together and in new ways interact more closely with each other. Yet we have not, on the whole, been on the front foot about anticipating how we could adapt not merely the information which we as a legislature place in the public domain but the fundamental nature of our engagement with the public as well.

'A more fundamental assessment of what the term 'representative democracy' means in the Digital Age has to be contemplated. After all, the historic notions of representative democracy and parliamentary democracies were the belated by-products of the industrial revolution. They will have to evolve, perhaps radically, to meet the internet revolution or they will be left redundant by it.

'Democracy is a flexible creature. It can evolve in many positive directions. If we are determined to be as flexible as well then we can reconnect parliament and politics with the public and raise the quality as well as the quantity of our democratic discourse.'

This speech is one in a series delivered by the Speaker as part of his Commission considering digital democracy. The Digital Democracy Commission considering the themes of representation, legislation, scrutiny and engagement.

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Image: PA

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