Referenda, Plebiscites, Petitions

This page describes the instruments We the People will use to vote on issues…

General

Referenda, Plebiscites and Petitions may be initiated by:

  • The People,
  • Regional Assemblies,
  • Regional Chief Executive Officers,
  • Parliament, or
  • The President.

Petitions

Citizens shall have the right to petition authorities at any time in accord with the Constitution.

Petitions are usually used to demand action on some issue without necessarily stating what action should be taken. Petitions are also used as a means of seeking redress of some perceived wrong.

Petitions shall be initiated on forms available from Regional Offices, or may be created and signed online on the electronic voting website/App.

A national public announcement shall be made when Petitions are circulated for signatures.

Initiators of petitions shall sign a Statutory Declaration verifying the veracity of the petition before submitting it to the intended recipient. The Statuary Declaration will also be available in electronic form on the website/App and may be signed electronically.

After signatories are added, Petitions shall be forwarded to the appropriate body for action.

Agencies of the State in receipt of petitions shall acknowledge receipt within 14 days.

Agencies of the State in receipt of petitions shall respond within three months and inform petitioners of action taken.

Plebiscites and Referenda

Plebiscites and referenda shall be conducted on important public issues and shall involve a vote by the whole general electorate.

The same procedures shall be followed with both plebiscites and referenda.

Plebiscites

A Plebiscite is a non-binding vote on an issue. Plebiscites are commonly used by governments to determine the will of the people without being bound to implement it.

Plebiscites shall be used to gauge public sentiment on a question without necessarily specifically stating in definitive terms the binding action to be taken.

An example might be public concern that insufficient resources are being committed to defence of the nation.

Referenda

A Referendum shall be used to resolve a public issue in definitive terms of what action is required following acceptance by a 75% vote by the whole general electorate in favour of a specific proposition.

Referenda may contain multiple questions on the same topic and may contain several questions.

Citizens Initiated Referenda

Citizens may initiate referenda:

  • to change the Constitution,
  • to create, amend or annul National Policy,
  • to create, amend or annul National Laws, and
  • to create, amend or annul Regional Ordinances.

Procedure for Citizens Initiated Referenda

Any Citizen qualified to vote may initiate a proposal to conduct a referendum.

In the first instance the proposal shall be forwarded to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and shall be accompanied by a sum equal to six times Average Weekly Earnings. This sum shall be refunded if the proposal is approved in the subsequent referendum.

The sum of six times AWE is approximately $6,000 (2007) and is designed to deter frivolous proposals.

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel shall prepare a petition in conjunction with the initiator.

The involvement of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel is to ensure that the intention of the initiator can translate into appropriate action on the Constitution, the law, ordinances or into legislation without alteration.

On receipt of such a petition for a national referendum signed by 1% of voters spread over at least five metropolitan regions and five rural regions and verified by the Chief Electoral Commissioner, The President shall submit the proposal to referendum.

In 2007, 1% of voters qualified to vote nationally was approximately 140,000 voters.

On receipt of such a petition for a regional referendum signed by 5% of Regional voters verified by the Regional Electoral Commissioner, the Chief Executive Officer shall submit the proposal to referendum.

Referenda and Plebiscite Voting

All Australian Citizens resident in Australia and qualified to vote shall be eligible to vote at referenda and plebiscites.

Electoral Commissioners shall be responsible for verifying petition signatures, for conducting voting and for counting votes. Commissioners shall also be responsible for devising and implementing economical voting systems using contemporary technology.

Where it is technically possible, voting at referenda shall be conducted electronically. Until new technology can provide a better system, voters shall dial up the Electoral Office, punch in their social security number and then follow the prompts to record their vote.

The Electoral Commission shall count the vote and forward the result to the President or the Regional Chief Executive Officer. If 75% of voters approve the proposal the President or the Chief Executive Officer shall implement the proposal.

The optional preferential voting system prescribed herein shall be used in multiple question referenda and up to four preferences with descending value shall always be counted in the first count.

 

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NOTE: The above information is inspired by A Draft Constitution for Australia written and published by Lt Col (Ret) Charles Mollison

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