Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald on January 28, 2007

The outcome for the broader Australian polity is that the knowledge and breadth of experience collected together in the NGO community is having much less influence on how we develop as a society than it should. Like individual citizens, community groups are being increasingly reluctant to engage in the democratic process because they no longer believe that they can make a difference. Certain influential business lobbies have been brought into the fold, along with a few tame or uncritical NGOs like Mission Australia, the Salvation Army and WWF. There are grounds for serious concern that the longer this continues the more difficult it will be to reshape and rebuild the structures of democratic participation.

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