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Author: Adam Russell

What would Menzies, Howard and Whitlam have done?

I wanted to share this wonderful, clear, novel piece by Michael Kirby on the stupid plebiscite. It looks at the purported positions of Australia’s two longest-serving PM’s and Gough on the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite. Kirby’s view is based on various public positions and quotes by all three, and observations of others, since two of them have now passed on. You won’t be surprised that Kirby outlines (with much more authority and grace) many of the positions that I have been publishing in recent weeks. Unsurprisingly, the focus is on the 3 PM’s having a view that the power...

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Mandate, Schmandate!

Dear George Brandis, I’ve been listening very carefully to your nuanced conversations about the authority and process for the Same Sex Marriage legislation that you are proposing. I just want to get this right so I understand this right, so I’ve summarised my understanding below. The LNP coalition went to the last election with a bunch of policies in your platform; You won government by the barest of majorities: 1 seat in the House of Reps and 50.36% of the 2PP vote; But, nonetheless, it is a win, and Her Majesty gave you a mandate to form government; Now that...

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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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