CANdo chairman Professor David Flint on direct democracy
We’re arguing that representative democracy as intended by the founders has been compromised by the political parties and the factions. We see this in a number of areas. We see this particularly in the Labor Party, as the very worst of this, in the caucus pledge.
Edmund Burke said you elect your representative for his opinion. Well, you don’t elect your Labor representative for his or her opinion. You elect them under the caucus pledge with the opinion which the party tells them to hold.
You see in a number of other areas the advantages that the political parties have taken.
For example, in voting above the line in the Senate where you need the wisdom of Job and all the abilities of a computer geek to try and find out where your preferences could possibly go.
We see that through the financing of elections by the major parties. We say that there is another model and that is the model which prevails for example in Switzerland and in certain states of the United States and in British Columbia.
There is a point at which the people should be entitled by petition to call for a vote on whether there should be a recall. And there will also be a provision whereby the people, if they find they were double-crossed over, for example, the introduction of a tax which in the election they were told they would never be imposed “by a government which I lead’’, if that tax were imposed surely the people have the right to petition for a vote on whether that tax should proceed as a law.
We’re not saying this should something the government should enact, we’re saying that using the model that John Howard established as proposed by Alexander Downer in 1998, that is an elective convention based on the Corowa Convention.
The Corowa plan was that once the convention reached a position, their proposals should go straight to the people. And what we’re proposing is that there should be a convention to discuss whether, as we say, representative democracy has been compromised, whether there should be additional and carefully staged checks and balances which cater for the situation this country finds itself in.