Giving more democratic rights to the people, with Citizens Initiated Referendums

The upcoming local government elections in New South Wales is yet another reminder of the inadequacies of a political arrangement whereby the people, following an election, end up being dictated to by governments; where their so-called representatives can implement policies that they were not elected on or which the majority of the people are opposed to.

There is a need for people to have the democratic right to determine the destiny of their own lives, and the direction of their community, rather than being run roughshod over by politicians who are supposed to be protecting their interests, but who have their own agenda.

There are times when governments at all levels, whether local, state or federal, act against the will of the people that they are meant to be representing; this should not be acceptable in a modern democratic society.

At the council level, the wasting of ratepayers’ money is one of the main problematic areas; whether such funds are wasted on extremist “Greenie” policies or irrelevant politically correct policies. Spending local ratepayers’ money on foreign entanglements, whilst council services to the community break down, with the needed maintenance of roads and pavements being neglected, is ridiculous. Local councils should not be wasting ratepayers funds on frivolous foreign “feel good” forays, or on vested interest groups, that detract from local budgets and projects, taking funds away from the needs of local ratepayers.

The fact is that often councils waste thousands of taxpayer dollars, but there is usually little or no opportunity for citizens to remedy the situation, because by the time the next election comes around the situation is over and the damage has been done, or there may be more pressing issues to be resolved. Or sometimes people may be happy enough with 80% of what their representatives are dong, so the troublesome 20% gets pushed aside. But why should people have to put up with undemocratic decisions, or have wait until the next election to solve major problems, when their “representatives” are not listening to the majority of the people?

With the implementation of Citizens Initiated Referendums, concerned citizens could raise issues and, if they can get enough voters to sign a petition, the matter can be put to the people for their vote. CIR works in Switzerland, as well as various states in the USA, so why not here? Why shouldn’t Australians have the same democratic rights as the Swiss? Or do the politicians think Australians aren’t good enough?

Citizens Initiated Referendums gives ordinary people a stronger democracy, makes politicians more responsive, and ensures that governments are more accountable.

It’s something to think about.

[The use of Citizens’ Initiated Referenda is an integral part of the policies of the APP.]


  1. A referendum should be triggered by (1) a petition by a certain number of citizens (2) a law or change directly affecting more than a certain number of citizens (3) a government wanting to spend over a certain amount of money on a project or (4) a government wanting to break a documented election policy or promise, or wanting to do something that was not in their election policies or promises.
    That would take care of most of the rorts we have seen, eg the carbon tax, or Kristina Keneally or Barry o'Farrell trying to sell off the NSW electricity network. The numbers and amounts would depend on the type of government (local / state / federal), and election policies and promises would have to be clearly documented beforehand. You'd probably need a referendum every 6 months or so , and yes that would be expensive, but you could use them for local / state / federal issues at the same time, and once you've set that up you'd end up saving far more than the current politicians squander.

  2. The benefits of CIR to Democracy are evident and have been for decades, unfortunately our Democracy has been highjacked by Party politics with faceless unelected power brokers controlling our elected two major Party representatives. This enables the Circus performers like Rudd and Gillard most recently to wield power without a mandate from the Electorate. Preferential voting is also part of the undemocratic process supported by both major parties. Payment to the parties for the number of votes attracted to help fund political campaigns is also part of the problem.The Mums and Dads of AUS are being shafted big time but most are too busy following the Footy and Cricket on TV to notice!

  3. yeah just like barney rubble the dictator elected in WA, just does as he likes and is commonly known as the EMPEROR, he has stuffed up our esplanade without any reference to the people, there was a large petition
    by 1000's of people who tried toi stop it, one poly just brushed it off saying the objectors were just country
    rednecks or something similar to that, it seems in WA money talks and stuff the people.
    is there a branch in WA to fight the coming elections next year.
    if so they will get my vote.

  4. I couldn't agree more, an excellent idea. Politicians are indeed following their own agenda's and ignoring the wishes of the people. That has been so evident with Labour ignoring the majority who want the boat people stopped and both Labour and Liberal have just voted down a bill to ban live trade export. Animal suffering is of no concern to them, but now we have the Animal Justice Party hopefully they will be able to help.

  5. I agree with the general position presented here, but I think we should check our facts because political facts are, after all, political weapons and if this position is incorrect we fight with dud ammunition.
    I often hear that Switzerland has CIR, but is this actually true? I asked a lot of young Swiss and they said the government initiates each referendum and if the people reject it they rephrase or paraphrase again and again until it gets through. And which are the US states that practice CIR? I am unaware of any democracy in the United States; and in Switzerland you can be convicted of treason for interfering in industry, as did one doctor who blew the whistle on dangerous pharmaceuticals. And Swiss people's rights? We are talking about a country that did not let women have the vote until the 1970s… 80 years after little NZ.
    There is another problem with CIR: Who gets to design the questions? Who gets to time the question? Can the media manipulate the public response? The powerful will get to control this. For those who have not thought this out, may I remind you that most people think that GetUp is The People speaking, yet in the shady background you will find Murdoch, Rothschild, and Rockefeller’s little mate George Soros lurking; also behind every rights movement in Europe, from Gay Rights to Multiculturalism.
    I am one hundred percent behind the spirit of this call for real democracy but CIR is only one technique; one fraught with vulnerabilities. There are other models we should also explore.

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