Winston Churchill famously said that democracy was the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried. In western countries like Australia the universal good of democracy is simply assumed. But are we assuming too much? “Democracy Is Not For Everyone” was the challenging proposition debated at the most recent IQ Squared event, held as part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The first debater for the affirmative team was Carmen Lawrence which, given her experience at democracy’s coalface, is rather ironic.
The speakers were, in order of appearance:
Simon Longstaff (moderator) is the executive director of the St. James Ethics Centre, which presents the IQ Squared Oz debates series.
Professor Carmen Lawrence is a former Premier of Western Australia. She then served as a Federal Labor politician and became Minister for Health and Human Services in the Keating Government. She is currently Professorial Fellow at the University of Western Australia.
Professor John Keane is an Australian author and academic. Among his many books is the recent The Life and Death of Democracy. He is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Westminster in the UK, but is soon to return to Australia to head Politics at the University of Sydney.
Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar is the former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Russia, amongst other countries. He is a specialist in Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs, and writes on energy and security issues for publications including The Hindu and Asia Online.
Amina Rasul-Bernardo is a research fellow at the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines. She is a former Presidential adviser on youth affairs, and is an expert on minority representation and democratic participation in the Philippines, her home country.
Professor Greg Craven is Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University. He is an expert in public law, having published numerous articles and books on the subject. He is a leading opinion writer and columnist for The Australian Financial Review.
Dr Michael Wesley is Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He’s a former Professor of International Relations and Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. Between 2007 and 2009 was the Editor of The Australian Journal of International Affairs.
This event was presented by the Sydney Opera House and the St James Ethics Centre.
First Published on the ABC’s BIG IDEAS