Democratic values, institutions and norms can no longer be taken for granted, a parliamentary review warns.
Coinciding with scepticism over the pandemic response and calls for change to culture at the heart of Australia's democracy, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee finds scope for hope.
"The level of civic engagement in Australia will increase if people are persuaded that politicians and the parliament are acting in defence of their living standards and their rights, liberties and opportunities," committee chair Senator Kim Carr said.
Recognising a multicultural talent pool, the report recommends the Australian government investigate allowing dual citizens to be elected to the federal parliament.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a new confidence among Australians in the ability to follow expert advice, but this remains fragile and it is yet to be seen whether it will continue beyond the pandemic," Senator Carr said.
The committee's task over a 19-month inquiry was to investigate long-term indications the level of public trust in government and democracy was in decline.
The 18 recommendations include compulsory "history and active citizenship" classes in years nine and 10, a new national research centre on migration, citizenship and social cohesion, as well as a national strategy to tackle fake news and misinformation.
The committee also recommends increasing the rate of public election funding paid to parties and candidates and the introduction of administrative funding for political parties and elected independents to fend off the influence of business and lobby groups.
The report found "reason to hope" democratic leaders will be judged by long-established standards such as health and personal safety, whether our lives are getting better or worse and whether benefits are enjoyed by few or many.
There were 210 submissions and 250 Uluru Statement from the Heart campaign letters received by the committee, along with two round tables and a final public hearing last November.
In a dissenting report to the main findings, the Greens recommended the government establish a truth and justice commission to explore the ongoing impact of colonisation on First Nations people and enact a treaty or treaties.
"A treaty would transform this country," Greens committee member Lidia Thorpe said.
"If we write it together, a treaty can be a blank canvas to reframe the story of who we want to be as a country."
Australian Associated Press
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