A Case Study of Public Servants Engaged in E-Consultation in Australia

A Case Study of Public Servants Engaged in E-Consultation in Australia

Lucas Walsh (Deakin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch063
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This article examines some of the challenges faced by local government during the development and implementation of a relatively new area of e-democratic innovation in Australia: e-consultation. E-consultation is seen as a valuable way through which a two-way relationship can be developed and enhanced between citizens and elected representatives. It involves the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet, to extend and/or enhance political democracy through access to information, and to facilitate participation in democratic communities, processes, and institutions. Drawing on a case study of the Darebin eForum in Victoria, Australia, this article focuses on the role of public servants as moderators of this local form of e-consultation. The discussion has three parts: online policy consultation is defined within the context of e-democracy; some of the ways that e-consultation challenges the roles of the public service, elected representatives, and citizens are outlined; and the author then argues for an e-consultation strategy that is situated within a continuum of citizen engagement that is ongoing, deliberative, educative, and inclusive.

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