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.
The article below, except for the #WhatYouCanDo">What you can do section, was originally Posted to GetUp on 15 August 2011.
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;
Mon, 2011-08-15 21:07
.... You can help bring Direct Democracy to Australia
Fri, 2011-08-19 03:22
Other GetUp proposals for Direct Democracy
I am not the only person and not the first to to have proposed a campaign for Direct Democracy to GetUp. Others include:
eDemocracy for Australia; a global first- although GetUp doesn't seem to include the date the proposal was made in the proposal, I gather from the period of time ago that other comments were posted, this was posted at least 6 months ago.
NSW Referendum on Direct Democracy - Commit O'Farrell in term 1 to his People Petition policy. This was probably posted only days ago as only one has voted for it and the comment I just posted to it is the first so far.
Citizens Enacted Referendums & Bills Into Parliament. This was posted nine or more days ago.
Citizens Enacted Referendums & Bills Into Parliament. This was posted nine or more days ago. It currently has 11 supporters and is ranked 396th.
Stop the privatisation of Publicly owned asserts... any such actions should be put to a referendum.. Mine was the first comment made, so I can't say when it was posted. It currently has 5 supporters and is ranked 575th.
e-referendums on major issues. This currently has only one supporter and is ranked 985th.
The fact that none of these proposals nor a large number of other excellent suggestions made to GetUp have not been taken up by GetUp gives me reason to fear that my proposal may languish unless it receives a lot more votes and a lot more public support. So If you haven't joined GetUp, please join and vote for my Direct Democracy suggestion. Also, please consider my #WhatYouCanDo">other suggestions as to how you can help.
Fri, 2011-08-19 04:52
Telstra could not have been privatised under Direct Democracy
Fri, 2011-08-19 09:53
What power do democratic elections forgo?
Rudy (not verified)
Fri, 2013-01-18 09:14
Direct Democracy, you read my mind, a transitional phase
Sun, 2013-01-20 19:11
Formal democracy is seriously deficient, but remains a safeguard
Rudy (from Balance R & D) wrote:,
Those who put their time and effort into preserving the environment or helping their community are rarely paid for their valuable work whilst those who lobby governments to allow corporatians to profit from the destruction of the environment and community are usually well paid, often through salaries.
This must change. After popular democratic consensus to preserve the environment and community has been achieved and legally enacted, those who have worked hard to achieve that outcome should be fairly remunerated for their efforts and compensated for any financial expenses incurred.
Furthermore, as job vacancies appear in related areas of government, greater preference should be given to those community members who have shown, by having campaigned to preserve the environment, that they have the motivation and aptitude for the work.
The coup of 11 November 1975, and NSW Labor Premier Jack Lang's dismissal in 1932) showed that having the Queen, or her Australian representative, whether Governor-General or state Governor, as the formal head of state, can be used to subvert democracy as you have argued.
Nevertheless, as long as Australia remains formally democratic, there is a limit to how far democracy can be denied. The Fraser Government, which won the 1975 elections, got progressively fewer votes in the subsequent elections of 1977, 1980 and 1983, the last of which it lost. Ten years after Jack Lang was ousted from power, Labor leader William McKell was re-elected NSW Premier in 1941 during the Second World War.
Of course, in the case of the Federal elections of 1983, the Labor Party, led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, had become corrupted to be no more than a tool of international corporations, bent on inflicting disaster capitalism on Australia. This was facilitated by Paul Keating removing Federal Government controls over the economy commencing with his decision, made in 1983 without any electoral mandate whatsoever, to 'float' the Australian.
As hard as that may seem in 2103, it still remains possible, in a formal democracy, for voters to oust the heirs of Keating, Hawke and Howard, who are now serving the ruling elites at our expense and replace them with decent politicians.
Sun, 2013-01-20 19:39
Consensus in a fragmented and de-educated people?
Rudy (not verified)
Fri, 2015-02-06 17:06
Transitioning to Direct Democracy
Anonymous (not verified)
Fri, 2013-01-18 10:26
The TinyURL link at top
The TinyURL link at top (http://tinyurl.com/3nmwwjq) is broken. Not a good start. Fix it (fast ;-).
Editorial comment: Thanks for pointing this out. In fact, the TinyURL is not broken. The page to which http://tinyurl.com/3nmwwjq pointed was deleted. The page contained a proposal for a GetUp campaign for Direct Democracy. That page was suddenly deleted, together with all the comments in support, without warning by the GetUp administrators. How an organisation claiming to be for participatory democracy could allow this to happen to any campaign proposal, let alone a campagin proposal for what I would have thought was GetUp taken to its logical conclusion, is beyond me.
al loomis (not verified)
Sat, 2013-01-19 21:00
Sun, 2013-01-20 16:35
We all have a stake in the preservation of formal democracy
Thank you for your interest and for this insightful contribution.
You are right to point out that our formally democratic system is flawed. Conclusive evidence can be found on, or linked to by, the pages of candobetter. Much of what has been enacted by Australian governments in recent decades has been harmful to Australia: privatisation, reduction of government services, destruction of our natural environment, population growth and high immigration, wars, including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and other wars that the Australian government has colluded in, including those against Libya and Syria.
All of this was opposed by the overwhelming majority of informed Australians. On most occasions, this majority also comprised the outright majority. For example, all the privatisations of recent decades were overwhelmingly opposed by the Australian public.
Nonetheless, in spite of its grave shortcomings we still have a stake in preserving formal democracy. The German Communist Party (KPD) stupidly denied this when faced with the threat of Nazism in 1933. Germany and the rest of humanity paid a terrible price with 60 million lives lost to rid the world of the barbarism of Nazism and Japanese colonialism in the Second World War.
The example of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), even though he was U.S. President for barely 1,000 days before he was murdered, shows that it is possible, even within the corrupted formal democracy that exists in the United States, for a for a kind, courageous and decent person, with the best interests of his constituents at heart, to be elected to the highest office of the most powerful nation on earth. If it happened once, it could happen again.
As horribly deficient as formal democracy has shown itself to be in 2012 it would be tragic if humankind were to draw from that the conclusion that it should be discarded.
Sun, 2013-01-20 17:24
Monarchy, Democracy and Citizens Initiated Referendems
al loomis (not verified)
Wed, 2016-04-06 10:39
Democracy, the getting of it