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ACM Home arrow Plebiscites

Plebiscites
Plebiscites

...Republicans believe they would lose another referendum so they propose a plebiscite or plebiscites...

The Founding Fathers of Australia were well aware of the fact that starting out as a republican, Napoleon Bonaparte skilfully used seven constitutional plebiscites – just questions without details - to take and to increase his hold on power. As a result, Europe suffered over two decades of war resisting his attempts to subjugate the continent.  They were also well aware of the fact that his nephew, Napoleon III followed this practice of using plebiscites to seize and consolidate his power. So our Founding Fathers would not have a bar of the French style “blank cheque” constitutional plebiscite. Instead chose the Swiss style referendum which is on the table before and not after the vote.


The Founding Fathers did not want to make it impossible to change the constitution. But as Founding Fathers Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garran argued, there should be proper debate unti the people agreed nationally and in a majority of States that the proposed change is “ desirable, irresistible and inevitable.”

Some people say the record of changes approved indicates it is too difficult to change the Constitution.

Plebiscites are misused today by politicians in other countries . They will draft the question to confuse the voters, and they won’t reveal the details of their proposal.


You may be interested to know what happens when politicians put the same question again. One European politician in recent times was so annoyed when the voters rejected a European Union referendum, he famulsy said the people will “ have to keep on voting unit they get it right.”  

There is also a warning about the temptation which a successful plebiscite might give some politicians. They could design a trick question to which a majority may say Yes.  Then there is the outside possibility that they could try to bring in a republic through the back door without a referendum.

Not all politicians support the use of plebiscites in relations to constitutional change.

...plebiscites back on the agenda - for one reason...

As a result of the 2020 Summit, where republicanism became the principal issue, the plebiscite, (or indeed a cascading series of plebiscites) is well and truly back on the agenda. One thing is absolutely clear. The only reason for this is that republicans believe they would lose another referendum.
So they have devised a devious scheme to circumvent the constitution. It has been complicated by the fact that republicans cannot agree among themselves on what sort of republic they want Australians to accept.

...changing the rules when you can’t win honestly...

Just imagine if, during a football match, one side tried to have the rules changed to give them a free kick whenever they were losing. That is the rort which the republicans are trying to foist on the nation. And to add insult to injury, the republicans expect the taxpayers to pay for all of this, including trying to do their impossible – to settle their endless squabbles. Australians should recall that the Prime Minister, Mr Rudd  solemnly assured voters, just before the 2007 election, that he would not proceed on a republic in his first term, “if at all.”

...Australians must “keep on voting until they get it right....”

And yet, it seems that Australians could be called to the urns on at least two or three occasions to vote yet again on republicanism. Three things will block this. First, republicans are certain they would lose a referendum. Second, polling indicates that not only would they lose a referendum; they would lose one on the supposedly most popular model, the direct elect model.

And we haven’t yet pointed out that this will involve expensive and frequent elections for the president, vice president, governors, lieutenant governors, administrators etc with even more politicians. The third matter which will block a move on a plebiscite is that polling indicates that this too would go down. And again, the people haven’t yet heard why these constitutional plebiscites used this way are a devious, deceitful and expensive attempt to circumvent the constitution.

In all of these, except at the final referendum, what is being planned to replace our remarkably successful constitution will be kept from the people.
And if this process is followed in the states and territories, and if the Flag is to be changed too, we are talking about requiring up to the equivalent of 28 elections.  As one leading European politician said when the EU Constitution was rejected in votes France and the Netherlands, the people must keep on voting until they get it right. A similar view prevails among republicans in Australia. As one leading republicans intimated, only stupid people would vote No.

...the real reason for this rort...

To repeat, Australians should be clear on one thing. The only reason for a plebiscite or plebiscites is the republicans know they will lose another referendum. The first plebiscite will be written by spin doctors and designed to obtain the maximum vote. The second plebiscite was specifically designed to stop Australians from expressing a preference for the existing constitution. Instead they would be forced to choose between different republican models.

Any more than two models will be there for cosmetic purposes. One will be a repeat of the failed 1999 “politicians republic.” The other will be a republic with “even more politicians, at least sixteen more jobs for the Administrators etc will all be elected. No doubt the taxpayer will fund their political campaigns too.

The one choice Australians won’t have in this second vote is to express a preference for the existing constitution. This is because republicans fear that the existing constitution would win. With Australians forbidden to vote for the existing constitution, most experts think the direct election model would prevail.


Read more



Scope for Plebiscite Significantly Narrowed - Did Republicans Notice? Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 25 June 2012

The recent High Court decision in Williams v. Commonwealth has significantly narrowed the scope for a plebiscite on a politicians' republic.

The republicans probably haven't noticed it, but no more can a Prime Minister threaten what Paul Keating did, a spin-doctored blank cheque plebiscite, without at least legislation supporting the proposal. But even that is doubtful.

 
Republicans likely to lose a plebiscite Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012
As we reported recently, the leading republican historian Dr John Hirst has warned the republican movement that their current policy of refusing to indicate what sort of republic they want is fraught with  danger. 

Dr Hirst says that if the government agreed to their demand to run with a republican plebiscite, and if it were lost,  republicanism in Australia would be destroyed.



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[ Fate of republicanism vested in plebiscite]


 

 

 

...it was all the ARM’s fault......



He says that after the failure of the 1999 referendum many people reported that they felt the issue had been rushed; that they had not been adequately informed and consulted about the proposal on which they were required to vote.

I don’t doubt these feelings— I don’t doubt them even though the consultation had in fact been comprehensive,” he added .


Although he misunderstands three important aspects concerning the Convention, previously referred to in this column , he does not adopt the embarrassing whinge that is so typical of some republicans. This is to complain about how unfair John Howard was. Not Dr. Hirst.

Read more...
 
Abandon plebiscite, or republic could be finished - leading republican Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 06 March 2012

 Significant divisions are appearing within the republican movement. An old hand, one  who served on the Keating Turnbull Republic Advisory Committee – Dr. John Hirst - has now called for an end to the movement’s curious twelve year old policy of not having a policy. 

And just as Fairfax columnist Mike Carlton is calling for one, he says republicans should forget about a plebiscite. He fears it will be lost at the hands of the constitutional monarchists. If it is, he believes "the" republic will be finished.

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The fact is no one knows – or has known for 12 years - what republic or what new flag the republicans want. This is unlike the movement prior to the 1999 referendum, when people knew where they stood for.

 

There was one exception and that was during the 1998 constitutional convention election campaign. The ARM said they might accept direct election. Once the election was over, their minds quickly closed against direct election.

   


 


 

....dissent...

 

Read more...
 
Bring on plebiscite & commit electoral suicide - Fairfax demand Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 02 March 2012

Once bitten by the republicans in the 90s, the politicians are twice shy.  They are understandably wary of invitations from obsessed republicans to commit political suicide. But now reflecting the newspapers' republican agenda, Fairfax columnist Mike Carlton insists Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government do precisely that.

The politicians remember that the republican movement swore to them that the referendum would be a pushover. It wasn't.

Image
[ Napoleon 1 and Napoleon III - as did the revolutionaries - favoured blank cheque plebiscites ]


 The press was squared, the ABC and SBS were onside and commercial television sure to follow, a republic had been inserted into the ALP’s platform – admittedly surreptitiously and without enthusiasm - and the Liberal party infiltrated and thus neutralised.  The Turnbull Keating model would easily prevail.  Hadn't it been certified as safe by two former chief justices and a former governor general – all knights of the realm?

But no matter what the inner-city elites thought, Australians smelt a rat.  As Alan Jones said, if you don't know, vote no.  There wasn't a passion out there for change.  Months before the referendum, Malcolm Turnbull confessed - to his diary published later - "We have Buckley's chance of winning."

Why?   

 "The problem is ," Mr. Turnbull admitted "  nobody is interested.




....the Carlton plebiscite..

 




 

Read more...
 
Let the people decide ...but I shall decide on which questions Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Under the heading, It's a very simple thing. Let the people decide as long as I decide when they get to decide, The Australian's Cut & Paste column (21-22/6) sees some contradictions among the  republican politicians about plebiscites.

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Let the people decide. Bob Brown, ABC's 7.30, January 21, 2010:

LET Australians have a say now. It's a very simple thing, a plebiscite, indicative, it doesn't lock governments in, but says, "yes" or "no", to the prospects of Australia becoming a republic.

Or maybe not. Bob Brown on Radio National Breakfast yesterday:

TONY Abbott's call for a plebiscite on a carbon price - is that a good idea? 

Brown: No . . . It's a waste of public money for an indicative plebiscite, which would be binding on no one.

Plebiscite on a carbon tax? Constitutional law expert George Williams in Melbourne newspaper The Age yesterday:

Whatever its political merits, the plebiscite is a bad idea.

Williams in The Weekend Australian, April 19, 2008:

The next step should be a plebiscite held with the next federal election to ask Australians whether they want a republic.
 
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