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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



Conventions and plebiscites Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 08 May 2007
The Sydney Morning Herald 10-11 March, 2007 argues that the framers of our Constitution, one of the few to be successful over time, had failed to provide a legal structure that matches the demands of the real world.  The Herald concedes that the “problems” it cites are all the fault of politicians.  But, it says, the fault lies with the politicians only “in the first instance…Fundamentally our constitution is to blame, and that means the problems are the fault of all Australians.”  Seeming unaware of, or more likely, unwilling to mention the role of the High Court in the centralizing process, the editor admits to that ultimate preference of all republican centralists, the abolition of the states.  Conceding that the electorate would never accept abolition, he says the states should at least be “reformed.” (”If they cannot be abolished, the states must be reformed.”)

 

 

This “reform” is to be in accordance with the republican centralist’s agenda to “slim” our government system from three tiers to two.  Since the people won’t allow this, the Herald thinks the answer is to abolish local government.  Then they will “regig”  the states to be the providers of services.  “Policy would be set at the federal level.” Some “reform.”  Outside of the People’s Republic model which the Stalinists in the  Communist Party wanted to impose on us , this is one of the most centralist-and dangerous models of government to be proclaimed in recent years.  All power, all decision making will be concentrated in Canberra and that check on the politicians, the Crown, would of course be abolished.  While the people still have a say, even with the blatant media manipulation which is too prevalent today, this will never be implemented.

 

 

What may occur is something Herald proposes as the first step in such a process – “a constitutional convention to work out a proper division of powers.”  

 

 

The calling of a convention has already been raised by some of the politicians.  The South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, says the Premiers want a constitutional convention held in February next year, 2008.  He said that the Commonwealth had eroded state rights.  According to a report on the ABC, on 9 February, 2007 Mr. Rann continued: "That's of course 10 years on from the Republic convention, but of course what we wanted to do is  [to assess] how we can make federalism work better for Australians in the national interest."

 

 

 

 Mr. Rann was attending a meeting of the eight Premiers and Chief Ministers in Sydney on 9 February 2007. This followed a meeting the day before with the Prime Minister John Howard, at which they failed to reach agreement on handing over control of the country's largest inland river system, the Murray Darling.

 

 

 If there is to be a convention after the 2007 election, the important questions will be first, who will choose it, and secondly, what will be its terms of reference.  What the nation does not need, nor can it afford in money or in distraction from the important issues, is yet another taxpayer funded talkfest for the republicans work out, what they actually want.  We have had three of those so far, and a landslide rejection by the people of the best republican model they could come up with, the one which the media, including the Herald, and most of the politicians, told them to accept.

 

 

In the meantime, the Queensland Premier has reneged on a promise to hold a plebiscite, not on the republic, but on recycled water. According to the ABC, on 28 March, 2007, the Queensland Government had promised south-east Queenslanders a say on drinking recycled water, and was prepared to spend $10 million on a vote in March.  In canceling the plebiscite,Mr. Beattie said that the drought is so bad that there is no other choice. He said the new water grid for recycled water is expected to be ready in late 2008.

 

 

"It just seems pointless to proceed with a plebiscite on March 17," he said. "So we've decided to cancel the polls, so there'll be no vote.I apologise to the people of South East Queensland for breaking a commitment, but that was in less serious circumstances."

 

 

 

 
Kim Beazley's cascading series of plebiscites and referenda. Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 10 April 2001

At the 2000 ALP National Conference, the Hon. Kim Beazley said: “We need a process which gives all Australians a greater sense of ownership and genuine involvement in any proposal for a republic. As I have said publicly, this could be achieved with the three-step consultative process which would begin with a plebiscite on the threshold question: Do we want an Australian as our Head of State.

If a majority of people agree, a second plebiscite would follow to determine the preferred mode of selecting the Head of State. Finally, a constitutional referendum would be held based on the outcome of the two plebiscites.”

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