E-Democracy Policy in Queensland
Monika Henderson (Henderson & Associates Pty Ltd, Australia), Fergus Hogarth (Associates Pty Ltd, Australia) and Dianne Jeans (Queensland Government, Australia)
Copyright: © 2008
The term e-democracy has tended to be used interchangeably in the literature with e-governance or e-government, and these terms have been described as “being in a constant state of definition, redefinition, and evolution” (Riley, 2002). For the purpose of this article, e-democracy is seen as one facet of a wider use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the business of government, where the focus is on increasing citizen participation in the public decision-making process rather than using ICTs to deliver government information, programs and services, to make financial transactions electronically, or to enhance government internal administrative practices such as record-keeping. E-democracy has been variously defined, described in one report as “easier to recognise than define” (Kellner, 2004). New terms have also been coined, such as m-democracy—“m” for mobile, addressing mobile communication technologies separate from electronic processes such as the Internet that are more commonly used for e-democracy (Brucher & Baumberg, 2002). The case study that follows proposes a simple definition: “E-democracy refers to the use of information and communication technologies in democratic processes.” E-democracy covers a wide range of activities that support public participation in democratic processes, including electronic voting, online consultation, Web-based discussion forums, electronic petitions to parliament, using the Internet to Webcast parliamentary debates, and digital polling and surveys. Clift (2002a) lists the leading e-democracy practices as e-mail notification as an active information dissemination tool; online public hearings and consultations; ICT use by members of parliament for electoral engagement; digital recording and availability of public hearing recordings and materials; and ICT-enabled local civic deliberations and global networking.