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Month: September 2016

B1 and B2 go off the grid in a very idealogical way

Scene: wide shot on an empty living room in a suburban house: retro stuffed couches, anti-macassars on the chairs, doylies on the table under the plastic plant vase. textured wallpaper, orange lamps and so forth.  a picture of retro domestic bliss Enter: B1: stage left, carrying shopping bags.  B1 has obviously been out running errands.  B1 looks around as if searching for someone.  Then B1 takes a deep breath and yells. B1: Hey, B2, Where are you? B2: I’m in the garage. B1: What’s are you doing in the garage? Cleaning it up? B2: No. Something much more exciting....

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Australian Referenda and Plebiscites

There’s a lot of discussion surrounding Plebiscites and the Same Sex Marriage issue. Although there have been only 3 plebiscites run by the Federal Government since 1901, a single one has passed in 1977 to select the new National Anthem. There have been 44 referenda in the same time, and only 9 have passed. A great concern about the use of a plebiscite is the low pass rate: only 33% of Plebiscites and 20.45% of Referenda. For your information, this is the list of Referenda and Plebiscites in Australia since Federation. YearReferendum No.SubjectCarried 19061Senate ElectionsYes 19102State DebtsYes 19103Surplus RevenueNo 19114Trade and CommerceNo 19115MonopoliesNo 19136Trade and CommerceNo 19137CorporationsNo 19138Industrial MattersNo 19139TrustsNo 191310MonopoliesNo 191311Railway DisputesNo 1916n/aMilitary Service (plebiscite)No 1917n/aMilitary Service (plebiscite)No 191912Legislative PowersNo 191913MonopoliesNo 192614Industry and CommerceNo 192615Essential ServicesNo 192816State DebtsYes 193717AviationNo 193718MarketingNo 194419Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic RightsNo 194620Social ServicesYes 194621MarketingNo 194622Industrial EmploymentNo 194823Rents and PricesNo 195124Communists and CommunismNo 196725ParliamentNo 196726AboriginalsYes 197327PricesNo 197328IncomesNo 197429Simultaneous ElectionsNo 197430Mode of Altering the ConstitutionNo 197431Democratic ElectionsNo 197432Local Government BodiesNo 197733Simultaneous ElectionsNo 197734Senate Casual VacanciesYes 197735ReferendumsYes 197736Retirement of JudgesYes 1977n/aNational Song (plebiscite) (choice of 4 using preferential voting)Yes 198437Terms of SenatorsNo 198438Interchange of PowersNo 198839Parliamentary TermsNo 198840Fair ElectionsNo 198841Local GovernmentNo 198842Rights and FreedomsNo 199943Establishment of RepublicNo...

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The Australian Government Can do Amazing things without a Plebiscite!

The Australian Government, over 45 federal parliaments, has achieved much.  Often the initiatives that emanate from the parliamentary chambers in Canberra are evidence of advanced social, economic, financial and even scientific thinking.  We are the holders of many world firsts. So much of this has been achieved through normal parliamentary process: the debating of bills brought on not only by the government in the House of Representatives, but by the Senate and Private Members themselves.  Over the life of the Federation since 1901, the Australian Parliament has enacted 12,437 bills up to about the middle of 2016.  Of course this doesn’t count the number of initiatives that were decided by administrative means, or even Ministerial discretion. You know how many of those were the result of a plebiscite?  Just one.  A single plebiscite (one of 3 in the history of federation) that selected “Advance Australia Fair” in 1977.  There were two others, in 1916 and 1917, to determine whether to introduce conscription for military service in World War 1, but these were both rejected. Here is a list of some important initiatives put into effect by the Government of Australia – it’s just a few and I’m sure I’m missing some. But keep in mind: only one of these occurred as the result of a plebiscite. YearInitiative 1899Sent Troops to the Boer War 1901Established the White Australia Policy 1903Created equal...

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We Don’t Have a History of Plebiscite Usage – Some Legislative Facts

We don’t use plebiscites much – But I didn’t realise how little I don’t support the idea of using a plebiscite to determine the legislative outcome for Same Sex Marriage.  I’ve argued this elsewhere, but one reason is that this isn’t a tool that we have any history of using.  It’s an extra-constitutional process that has no binding outcome on the voting of our parliamentary representatives. To see how little this mechanism has been used, I did some research on legislative output since Federation.  You can see the results below a total of 12,437 bills passed by both Houses, given Royal Assent and proclaimed as Acts of Parliament, with 3 Plebiscites in total since Federation. All in all, our governments felt the need to go to the people in this way on only 0.024% of total bills ever passed Legislative Data Bills, Acts, Plebiscites and Referenda by Year YearBills PresentedActs PassedNum PlebescitesNum ReferendaTotal Cum Acts 190128170017 190223210038 190327210059 190422150074 1905332600100 1906422301123 1907291200135 1908292700162 1909382900191 1910504102232 1911302902261 1912524300304 1913372406328 1914543600364 1915625300417 1916454110458 1917404010498 1918504700545 1919373202577 1920665600633 1921494300676 1922474200718 1923523600754 1924636100815 1925353200847 1926565202899 1927503800937 1928474801985 19294335001020 19308978001098 19317356001154 19328076001230 19337774001304 19347267001371 19357673001444 19369994001538 19375447021585 19389178001663 19399187001750 194010199001849 19417370001919 19426158001977 19435958002035 19444846012081 19456059002140 19468481032221 19479493002314 19489693012407 19498887002494 19508780002574 19518582012656 1952111109002765 19539996002861 19548583002944 19557171003015 1956114113003128 1957119103003231 195810183003314 1959105104003418 1960115111003529 19619998003627 1962112108003735 1963103103003838 1964135130003968 1965158156004124 19669493004217 1967133124024341 1968169157004498 1969101102004600 1970154127004727 1971148138004865 1972146139005004 1973253221025225 1974226166045391 1975215121005512...

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