(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
Citizens Initiated Referenda... (CIR)
Many Australians are aware of the shortcomings in our present political system, but few know that Citizen Initiated Referendums (CIR) can be used to give voters direct access to making laws by majority vote. CIR allows voters to bypass Parliament on important issues if they choose to do so and when introduced, binding CIR enabled at Federal, State and Local government levels, will be an addition to our present system of representative government.
Citizen Initiated Referendums has four main forms:
CIR has a long history in Australia. A clause to enable CIR was included in the first draft of the Australian Constitution. It was deleted, along with other clauses, so that consensus could be reached on the constitution. Moves were made to introduce CIR to most Australian states between 1916 to 1918. All these early efforts failed. A CIR enabling 'Bill' was debated in the South Australian State parliament in 1916, but was not voted upon.
Draft enabling legislation has recently been tabled in all state parliaments and in the Federal parliament, but only the Canberra State parliament has debated the issue. In local government, the Burnie council (Tasmania) and the North Sydney council (NSW) have both introduced CIR on an informal, non-binding basis.
In 1993 the residents of Gympie (Queensland) opposed council on the issue of council amalgamation. An unofficial, unsanctioned and strongly debated referendum was organised, paid for and conducted by local citizens. Over 26% of eligible voters took part, with 76% opposed to amalgamation. The referendum forced council to hold an official poll later that year. Over 90% of electors voted and the results reversed the council's earlier decision and stopped amalgamation from taking place.
Direct Democracy IS possible in Australia, as the examples above clearly indicate. We should all canvass our politicians to introduce enabling legislation for binding Citizen Initiated Referenda. We would then have the RIGHT to correct our elected representatives when they stray from what the majority of voters want on important matters. All the major Australian political parties have endorsed CIR at some time or other, but when in power they have not legislated it.
Citizens' Initiated Referenda (CIR) is not a political party, is not involved with any political party and espouses no political cause other than the rights of all of us to have a more direct say in what is happening in Government."It brings Democracy back to the people, where it rightfully belongs."
Once CIR is installed as an amendment to the Constitution, the process by which the people can initiate a referendum is simple and binding. The results cannot be changed without another referendum. The process consists of:
Imagine how simple this would be using the Internet and scanners.
In many countries where CIR is operating, the government follows through with the Bill having recognised public opinion, without resorting to a referendum.
In a true democracy the majority govern and the minorities are respected. We know it works. History has shown that when the majority of the people make the laws they are usually the correct ones. Under CIR politicians are respected. In Australia, a well-planned CIR system would produce political stability and restore Australia to what it was - the best country in the world!
The History of CIR
Following its success in Switzerland, Alfred Deakin argued for its adoption into our Constitution at the time of its conception. It was defeated by one vote.
In 1902 it became part of the Labor Party Platform and remained there until removed at the party's Perth Conference in 1963 when it was dropped on the motion of Don Dunstan.
Queensland State Independent, Liz Cunningham, was presented with a petition containing 26,000 signatures calling for the introduction of CIR On Tuesday, March 26, 1997, Ms Cunningham called for the introduction of Citizens' Initiated Referendums and threatened to introduce a private member's Bill if the Government failed to heed her call.
Until CIR is introduced, legislations are not binding on the government and can be ignored or thrown out by whatever party is in power. CIR is not divisive. Supporters of all parties can benefit while adhering to their own political beliefs.
Why do we bother with CIR? The answer is that we wouldn't HAVE to if our politicians would act in our best interest. But unfortunately, this is where the 'Law of Politics' comes in, which goes something like...
"Don't act for the common good if you
will alienate one group, only to get the praise of a smaller, less powerful, group."
Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870