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The Citizens’ Agenda


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In 2010, ‘new journalism’ guru Jay Rosen suggested a radical new form of election reporting – as opposed to the usual personality-based ‘horse race journalism’.

Four to six months before the election begins, the media should ask citizens not who they would vote for, but which issues they want the candidates to discuss. The media would then pursue these issues.

The Citizens’ Agenda is a social-media based research project that puts Rosen’s idea into action, run by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and social media website OurSay. It aims to encourage political engagement by opening the process to the people.

Voters in ten key electorates around Australia – a mix of marginal and safe seats, urban, rural and regional – will have a chance to directly influence debate and media coverage, by posting questions on the OurSay website and voting for the questions others have contributed. The questions voted most crucial will be put directly to local candidates, in a series of ‘town hall’ style meetings.

Join moderator Andrew Holden and five candidates for the seat of Melbourne (currently held by Adam Bandt) – Bandt (Greens), Sean Armistead (Liberal), Cath Bowtell (Labor), Michael Bayliss (Stable Population), Royston Wilding (Secular Party) and James Mangisi (Sex Party) as the top questions are posed, live.

Be part of this revolutionary example of democracy in action – and journalism as driven by the people, for the people.


Missed out, or couldn’t get there? Listen to the audio recording of the full event: mp3 (99 minutes, 47.5mb)


James Mangisi

With a commitment to Australian equity, James Mangisi has travelled the farthest and most remote regions of our country working as a science communicator. He is the Australian Sex Party’s candidate for the seat of Melbourne in the 2012 Federal Elections. Engaging with a diverse range of Australian... Read more

Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt is a Greens MP and the Federal Member for Melbourne. He was elected in 2010 when he made history by becoming the first Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives at a general election. Adam was elected Deputy Leader in April 2012 and is the federal Greens spokesperson on industrial... Read more

Cath Bowtell

Cath Bowtell is the Labor candidate for Melbourne in the Federal Election. She has lived in North Melbourne with her husband, Peter, for more than 25 years. Cath has been active in the local community through the North Melbourne Legal Service and as a parent at Curzon Street Children’s Centre and ... Read more

Michael Bayliss

Michael Bayliss is the Stable Population Party’s candidate for the Federal seat of Melbourne. Michael has postgraduate degrees in both economics and sport science, and has developed inclusive sports programs for people with disabilities in capital cities across Australia. In 2012 he won a finalist... Read more

Andrew Holden

Andrew Holden was appointed Editor-in-Chief of The Age in July 2012. It meant a return to his home town, after spending a dozen years in New Zealand. Among his roles there, he was editor of The Press in Christchurch for four a half years, which included the major earthquakes which devastated the cit... Read more

Sean Armistead

Sean Armistead was born in Darwin, where he lived with his father and his mother – a Ngunga Aboriginal Woman – before moving to Melbourne at the age of eight. He is the Liberal candidate for the seat of Melbourne in the 2013 Federal Elections. Sean grew up and attended primary and secondary sch... Read more


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