You can help bring Direct Democracy to Australia. To vote on this campaign go to http://tinyurl.com/3nmwwjq
John Marlowe first wrote an article about Direct Democracy late last year on 17 November 2010, the same day as an excellent episode of Rear Vision about Direct Democracy was first broadcast. Today, I made a suggestion to GetUp that they conduct a campaign for the Australian constitution to be changed to include Direct Democracy as it is currently practised in Switzerland. It is easy for anyone who agrees with the aims of GetUp to join in order to vote for my proposal. #WhatYouCanDo">What you can do.
GetUp should run a campaign to make provision in the Australian constitution to include Direct Democracy as it is currently practised in Switzerland. The recent experience of Swiss direct democracy and its broader history was described in the excellent 17 November 2010 episode of the ABC Radio National Rear Vision program (see http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2010/3047700.htm for transcript, podcast is here.)
A proposal for a new law, an amendment to an existing law or repeal of an existing law could be launched by a group of concerned citizens in a way similar to campaigns now run through GetUp.
However, if Australia had Direct Democracy in its constitution, the campaign would most likely end with the proposal becoming law, provided that a "double majority", that is a national majority of voters and majorities of voters in a majority of states, (or 'cantons' in Switzerland) votes for it at a referendum.
The number of signatures required to have a national referendum put is 100,000 of Switzerland's population of 7,860,000. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland#Direct_democracy). The equivalent proportion of Australia's current population of 22,677,40 is 288,278, so a more appropriate rounded number of required signatures for a national referendum to be held in Australia could be 250,000. (Given that many of Australia's people live further apart from each other than do people in Switzerland a still lower threshold could be justified.)
Under the laws of Direct Democracy, if the required number of signatures are obtained, then the proposal must be put to the Swiss people at the periodic multiple national referenda that are held in Switzerland. If the proposal is voted for by a double majority, then it becomes law.
Direct Democracy differs from the way representative democracy is practised in most countries formally labeled 'democratic'. I believe that few of those countries, notably Australia, can be described as truly democratic in the sense of "government of the people by the people and for the people". If those countries adopted Direct Democracy, then they could become truly democratic.
On many occasions, in at least the last four decades Australia, has experienced Parliaments which have inexcusably ignored the clear wishes of the Australian people.
A probable reason why Australians have quietly accepted this is subtle indoctrination through the mass media. The mass media markets the questionable idea that politicians as a whole, having the best interests of their constituents at heart, are better able to judge than their [implied] mostly less educated and less knowledgeable constituents what is truly in the best longer term interests of those constituents.
In fact, the record shows that on nearly every occasion on which politicians have over-ruled the wishes of their constituencies, their judgment has not been better, or that they had been putting the welfare of powerful vested interests above the welfare of their constituents.
Often decisions which have harmed both our national prosperity and the interests of the least wealthy Australians have been reached against the known views of the majority of Australians. Sometimes there has been no electoral mandate and, on some occasions, decisions have actually run counter to specific promises made in elections.
On many other occasions, whilst decisions may not have been opposed at the time by the majority of Australians, neither would a majority of Australians have been in favour. There certainly was no informed consent.
Examples where the known wishes of the Australian public have been disregarded include: the privatisations of Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, the State banks and State insurance offices, the abolition of protection for Australia's manufacturing which commenced during the years of the Whitlam Labor Government, John Howard's Goods and Services Tax (GST) and "Work Choices", the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq.
Few other privatisations -- railways, other public transport, power generation, roads, water -- have not been imposed contrary to the known wishes of the Australian public. Certainly almost none have been done with the informed consent of the public.
Examples of actions, which were certainly taken without the informed consent of the Australian public, include: the floating of the Australian dollar and the financial deregulation of the early years of the Hawke and Keating Governments, Malcolm Fraser's emasculation of Medicare, Malcolm Fraser changing investment laws to allow overseas investors to buy up Australia's mineral wealth, the Whitlam Government's failure to legislate to index taxation scales in line with inflation, Australia's participation in the invasion of Afghanistan, the attempted use of mercenaries to break the Maritime Union of Australia by John Howard in 1998, the privatisation of retirement income, otherwise known as "Superannuation", by the Hawke government.
If Direct Democracy had been law in Australia for the last four decades, little of the harm described above would have occurred. Where Governments may have succeeded in having legislation detrimental to the public interest initially passed, more than likely, the damage would have been quickly undone through the provisions of Direct Democracy.
#WhatYouCanDo" id="WhatYouCanDo">What you can do
- If you are already a member of GetUp, vote for my proposal that GetUp launch a campaign for Direct Democracy. If you are not a member, join GetUP;
- Please tell your friends family, neighbours and all other contacts, including community groups, you are a member of, about Direct Democracy and ask them to also support my proposal and vote for it;
- If you have your own blog or web-site, please post information about Direct Democracy onto it. Feel more than welcome to post this article, parts of this article and links to this site and to my GetUp proposal onto your site;
- Write a letter to your newspaper editor in support of Direct Democracy. Be sure to send us a copy;
- Ring up talk-back radio and tell them about Direct Democracy and be sure to also tell us;
- Post Direct Democracy material onto any on-line discussion or mailing list in which you are participating where you think others are likely to be interested;
- Post your thoughts about Direct Democracy, including any you may have expressed elsewhere, onto this page;
- Consider writing articles about Direct Democracy for candobetter or other publications which support truth and democracy;
- Post notices about Direct Democracy onto any community notice board that you can. These could be in your sports club, local library, college school, church, community hall, university or local shop.
- Contact your local, state or Federal representative and let him/her know of your wish for Direct Democracy;
- If you are a member of the Greens, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Australian Protectionist Party or another minor party, ask your elected representatives to speak in favour of Direct Democracy in the Council, State Parliament or Federal Parliament. Move resolutions in support of Direct Democracy at conference or at your local branch. If you are an office holder put a motion in support of Direct Democracy to your committee;