Ep 04: Starship Enterprise and Steamship Democracy – Luca Belgiorno-Nettis

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Luca Belgiorno-Nettis

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About this conversation
When ‘Starship Enterprise’ took off 250 years ago, the middle classes began to make the modern world with accelerating speed and yes, it must be said, with some adverse consequences. But there is no better spaceship, no better sputnik, known to mankind. Working and trading are fundamental to human relations.

But business doesn’t usually factor in negative effects to the community at large – what economists euphemistically call ‘externalities’. For example, cities need open space, which business doesn’t address. Therefore ‘Steamship Democracy’ is needed alongside ‘Enterprise’. It’s a steamship, because it’s slower, but it actually needs to be faster, to anticipate business and promote the common good.

Conversation notes

  • Why Starship Enterprise and Steamship Democracy?
  • What’s wrong with politics?
  • Why contemporary elections are throwing up the least disliked politicians
  • The reasons behind suboptimal government
  • Why sortition or a jury system are the remedies to our current political problem
  • What are citizen juries?
  • How can we make politicians accountable?
  • Should there be a trial before implementing?


More about Luca
Luca Belgiorno-Nettis is the Managing Director of Transfield Holdings, and Prisma Investments – a private family office. He has a B. Arch. (UNSW) and a Dip. in Urb. Est. Mngmt. (UTS) and is also a member of the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Industry Advisory Board. In 2004 he founded The newDemocracy Foundation, a non-for-profit research organization focused on political reform.  In 2009 he was awarded an AM for his work in arts and the community generally, and in 2014 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Western Sydney University.


newDemocracy Foundation: newdemocracy.com.au

Transfield Holdings: transfield.com.au

Prisma Investments: prisma.net.au


“There are many good elements to our democratic system. The rule of law, the separation of powers, the freedom of the press, the freedom of association etc.. But I think the lack of respect for politicians is the biggest single concern. I think that we’ve gradually lost faith in our political parties and politicians whoever they are or whoever they claim to represent.”


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