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(Cairns... Far North Queensland)


Thank you for visiting my on-line office.

I appreciate your interest in the issues that effect not only Queenslanders, but all Australians.

Please let me hear from you about your views on the issues that matter to your Family, your Community and your State.


Selwyn Johnston



One person, with the support of the community, can make a difference



Citizen's Initiated Referenda

The Proposal

The Proposal concerning the introduction of Citizen's Initiated Referenda at both levels of (State/Federal) Government and local Authorities (Regional Councils):

Does NOT seek to radically change our present system of government.

Does NOT seek to remove the right of Parliaments to govern.

Does NOT seek to remove the incentive of elected members to show initiative.

Does NOT seek to slow the legislative processes.

Does NOT seek to incite division between Parliamentarians and electors.

Does NOT seek to damage our Westminster system of government.

Does NOT seek to be capable of removing individuals from office.



DOES seek to enhance the accurate representation of Governments.

DOES seek to remove the undue influence, by non-elected individuals or  groups, over parliament.

DOES have a genuine desire to see our Parliament govern.

DOES seek to encourage Parliamentarians to use their initiative.

DOES seek to remove the "bureaucratic" delays in the adoption of legislation.

DOES seek to achieve an enhanced working relationship between electors and Parliamentarians.

DOES seek to improve the awareness of political matters within the community.

DOES seek to increase the involvement of the community in the decision-making processes.

DOES seek to structure decision making of Parliament both easier and more representative.

DOES allow for greater input of ideas from the community.

DOES help to make the community responsible for its decision.

DOES encourage debate, thereby airing points of view that otherwise may not be aired.

DOES remove the "heat" from genuine debate.

DOES remove the energy sapping "pressure" of non-genuine groups, and non-genuine issues from the genuine         parliamentary processes.

In short, we encourage the community to vote for an individual or party of its choice.

We want the elected Government to make the decisions it deems necessary for the betterment of the entire community.

But the community should have control of an ‘instrument’ to guide the Government back on track if it should deviate too far from the purpose for which it was elected, particularly if that deviation was caused by minority pressure groups or non-elected power-brokers, who were able to bring unreasonable or self-serving pressure to bear on Parliamentarians.

The community should have the ability to have a greater input into decisions that affect them.


Should an individual or organisation believe that a change should be made to an existing law, a proposed law, or to introduce a new law or to repeal provisions of an existing law, then he, she or they, must be able to address that belief.

STEP. 1.


With free legal assistance (if necessary), draft a petition and collect one thousand (1,000) bona fide signatures of registered 
voters on the electoral roll

Present the petition to the Australian Electoral Commission for registration

A minimum of twelve petitioners is then appointed as custodians and promoters of the petition

STEP. 2.

The promoters then collect a predetermined amount of signatures from bona fide voters on the electoral roll - MINIMUM of 2.5% per electorate, in a majority of electorates, and must comprise 2.5% of total voters in all electorates.

This provision guarantees that the issue is of genuine concern to a broad cross-section of the community, and removes the danger of "city versus country" arguments.

There would be a maximum permitted period of 18 months to collect these signatures. During this time, monthly returns are made to the Electoral Commission showing the success or otherwise of the collection.

This provision allows the public and Parliamentarian alike to assess the popularity of the petition issue. This assessment may well enable the Parliament addressing the issue before the referendum is actually held, which in reality, would avoid the referendum, and enhance the democratic and parliamentary process.

STEP. 3.

Having obtained the necessary signatures, the petition is then re-presented. The Australian Electoral Commission certifies its qualification, and presents it to the Speaker of the House. The petition is then deemed to call for a referendum on that issue.

STEP. 4.

The Parliament is informed of the referendum call, and may act on its contents in such a manner as to satisfy the petitioners' demands. Failure by Parliament to make the necessary changes to legislation before the next federal election shall see the referendum proceed.

STEP. 5.

The referendum to determine the issue shall be held in CONJUNCTION WITH THE NEXT FEDERAL ELECTION.

NB This action makes the cost of holding such a referendum extremely inexpensive. Additionally, as the population is at the polls anyway, history has shown that given the chance, people will have a say on issues that affect them.

The Government is NOT responsible for the publication of the "for and against" arguments, but may put its case, if it does so desires. Equally, any organisation or individual may do likewise.

The time between the petition's presentation and the referendum at the next election, would be used for open debate and discussion. This will allow the community to become aware of facts from all sides of the argument.

STEP. 6.

The results of the referendum shall be determined by a majority of voters in a majority of electorates, PLUS, a majority of all voters.

This is called a "representative majority" which ensures a cross-section of support, ensures that it was indeed a genuine issue, avoids the "country versus city" arguments, and is consistent with the Constitution's referendum requirements. It also shows Parliament that support for the issue has been demonstrated - an instrument that is convenient to Parliament and voters alike.

STEP. 7.

Assuming the referendum is successful, the Bill is then presented to the Governor General for approval.

NB: Provision is also made for the holding of "emergency" referendums between elections. The same requirements apply for this action as above, except that a higher percentage would be required to call it - say 5% instead of 2.5% required for the election timed referenda.

We also encourage the Government of the day to exercise its rights to conduct referenda on issues of its choice.


We believe that with this process of Citizens Initiated Referenda, the minorities will have to secure genuine support for their arguments, the wishes of the majority will be heard, and the Parliamentarians will know exactly where they stand with the public. An avenue for utilising community common sense would be opened, and a re-emergence of the principle of Government of, for, and by the people will be widely welcomed. 

We believe that undue influence exerted by non-elected power brokers should be able to be challenged in a non-political arena. 

We believe that this system will be a useful instrument for Parliamentarians to gauge the feelings of the community, and will allow them to act accordingly. 

We believe that the Government who installs this system will cause an upsurge in the acceptance of politicians within the community. 

We believe that ours is a fair and genuine proposal because it allows only the genuine issues to be addressed and resolved by a representative majority. 

We believe that governments at all levels will benefit by our Citizens Initiated Referenda proposal because it creates an atmosphere of teamwork between the communities and governments, instead of one of distrust and cynicism. 

We believe that Citizens Initiated Referenda will allow the community equal rights with governments, i.e. the equal right of initiating a referendum.


It is extremely difficult to put the case for Citizens' Initiated Referenda in its entirety, on paper. There are many, and diverse advantages and benefits which would flow from the adoption of this proposal.

We trust that your visions of what this would accomplish for democracy is a positive one. Visions that will see genuine people seeking election to office and the self-interested individuals and power brokers becoming unable to dictate, what we the community, will have.

I commend this concept to you, and trust that it will open the door for further discussion and negotiation.

Citizens Initiated Referenda Lobby Group
P.O. Box 1919, Cairns FNQ 4870


Go to: Citizens Initiated Referenda  *  The Précis


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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870