September 29

Republicans Propose Plebiscites


Republicans believe they would lose another referendum so they propose a plebiscite or plebiscites

The Founding Fathers of Australia were well aware of the fact that starting out as a republican, Napoleon Bonaparte skilfully used seven constitutional plebiscites – just questions without details – to take and to increase his hold on power. As a result, Europe suffered over two decades of war resisting his attempts to subjugate the continent.  They were also well aware of the fact that his nephew, Napoleon III followed this practice of using plebiscites to seize and consolidate his power. So our Founding Fathers would not have a bar of the French style “blank cheque” constitutional plebiscite. Instead chose the Swiss style referendum which is on the table before and not after the vote.

The Founding Fathers did not want to make it impossible to change the constitution. But as Founding Fathers Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garran argued, there should be proper debate unti the people agreed nationally and in a majority of States that the proposed change is “ desirable, irresistible and inevitable.”Some people say the record of changes approved indicates it is too difficult to change the Constitution.

Plebiscites are misused today by politicians in other countries . They will draft the question to confuse the voters, and they won’t reveal the details of their proposal.You may be interested to know what happens when politicians put the same question again. One European politician in recent times was so annoyed when the voters rejected a European Union referendum, he famulsy said the people will “ have to keep on voting unit they get it right.”  There is also a warning about the temptation which a successful plebiscite might give some politicians. They could design a trick question to which a majority may say Yes.  Then there is the outside possibility that they could try to bring in a republic through the back door without a referendum.

Not all politicians support the use of plebiscites in relations to constitutional change.

Plebiscites back on the agenda–for one reason

As a result of the 2020 Summit, where republicanism became the principal issue, the plebiscite, (or indeed a cascading series of plebiscites) is well and truly back on the agenda. One thing is absolutely clear. The only reason for this is that republicans believe they would lose another referendum.So they have devised a devious scheme to circumvent the constitution. It has been complicated by the fact that republicans cannot agree among themselves on what sort of republic they want Australians to accept.

Changing the rules when you can’t win honestly

Just imagine if, during a football match, one side tried to have the rules changed to give them a free kick whenever they were losing. That is the rort which the republicans are trying to foist on the nation. And to add insult to injury, the republicans expect the taxpayers to pay for all of this, including trying to do their impossible – to settle their endless squabbles. Australians should recall that the Prime Minister, Mr Rudd  solemnly assured voters, just before the 2007 election, that he would not proceed on a republic in his first term, “if at all.”

Australians must “keep on voting until they get it right

And yet, it seems that Australians could be called to the urns on at least two or three occasions to vote yet again on republicanism. Three things will block this. First, republicans are certain they would lose a referendum. Second, polling indicates that not only would they lose a referendum; they would lose one on the supposedly most popular model, the direct elect model.

And we haven’t yet pointed out that this will involve expensive and frequent elections for the president, vice president, governors, lieutenant governors, administrators etc with even more politicians. The third matter which will block a move on a plebiscite is that polling indicates that this too would go down. And again, the people haven’t yet heard why these constitutional plebiscites used this way are a devious, deceitful and expensive attempt to circumvent the constitution. In all of these, except at the final referendum, what is being planned to replace our remarkably successful constitution will be kept from the people.

And if this process is followed in the states and territories, and if the Flag is to be changed too, we are talking about requiring up to the equivalent of 28 elections.  As one leading European politician said when the EU Constitution was rejected in votes France and the Netherlands, the people must keep on voting until they get it right. A similar view prevails among republicans in Australia. As one leading republicans intimated, only stupid people would vote No

The real reason for this rort

To repeat, Australians should be clear on one thing. The only reason for a plebiscite or plebiscites is the republicans know they will lose another referendum. The first plebiscite will be written by spin doctors and designed to obtain the maximum vote. The second plebiscite was specifically designed to stop Australians from expressing a preference for the existing constitution. Instead they would be forced to choose between different republican models. Any more than two models will be there for cosmetic purposes. One will be a repeat of the failed 1999 “politicians republic.” The other will be a republic with “even more politicians, at least sixteen more jobs for the Administrators etc. will all be elected. No doubt the taxpayer will fund their political campaigns too. The one choice Australians won’t have in this second vote is to express a preference for the existing constitution. This is because republicans fear that the existing constitution would win. With Australians forbidden to vote for the existing constitution, most experts think the direct election model would prevail.


Founding Fathers, plebiscite, Republic, republicanism

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