Yes indeed at somewhere very, very close to $70 million to arrive at a pre-determined answer to a structured question, to which ‘the people’ will have absolutely no input, it certainly would be a people’s vote. It would also become the people’s responsibility in allowing the ardent waste of $70 million from the public purse on one man’s bitter disappointment as an exhibition of the policy void his leadership of Her Majesty’s opposition has become.
A non-binding plebiscite is conducted by government – not opposition – to decide a matter relating to ordinary statute law, an advisory question of policy, or as a prelude to the submission of a formal referendum question, rather than a binding and entrenched amendment to the Constitution. Plebiscites can offer a variety of options, rather than a simple yes/no question. Three plebiscites have occurred since Federation, two on the issue of sending troops overseas to fight in the Great War and one in 1977 which aided in determining the simultaneous elections of both federal houses. 1977 was also the occasion when it was decided Advance Australia Fair would become our National Anthem. Unlike in referendums, voting in a plebiscite has traditionally been optional.
Constitutionally all three occasions have been important to the future of the nation in one way or another. I fail to see how a non-compulsory vote, which amounts to little more than an expression of opinion on a single, undoubtedly well structured and aimed question which would come from government and not opposition, would prove anything other than Tony Abbott’s desperation to force a popular vote on any level whatsoever. This is the man’s entire policy platform. Oppose absolutely everything this minority government supports or proposes, blast away on every dog-whistle he can dig up no matter how rusty, and push, push, push for the wasting of public monies on an election more than two years before one is due.
This man has the hide to claim the minority government is wasting money, and yet that is precisely what he promotes doing with his drive to an early election and the frustration of the political process along the way. This ‘plebiscite’ demand is yet another stunt by a man totally bereft any real alternative worth offering to the Australian people, who are, judging from polls we see weekly now, are genuinely tired of the lack of government we’re seeing from the minority situation. Government itself appears to lack direction or decision. It panders, of necessity without doubt, to the independent balance-of-power holders which only frustrates the desire to get on with policy decisions. That is all the Australian public want. A government that will govern. Make the decisions and carry them out. Abbott cannot do that in the current environment any more than the government can, undoubtedly less so by dearth of real policy. The one plus Abbott does have on his side is a partisan media, or part thereof at least. Possibly one of the major frustrations of government being his reliance on partisanship from certain media segments and the willing assistance it gives. That media will promote this plebiscite nonsense, but only government can order it. This is only a stunt, but it’s another in a long, long line of media sponsored, ‘three-word-slogan’ oriented, circus performances by anti-government forces in Australia. There are just over two years more to go.