The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes that Government is a servant and not a master. We believe that the people of a nation or territory should be able to strike down what they see as fundamentally unjust or unfair laws (including regulations).
Citizen Initiated Votes allow for laws to be struck down in a two part process. First, a petition requiring the signatures of a percentage (e.g. 4%) of the eligible electors would be submitted to the Australian Electoral Commission. Second, following a period long enough for people to think the issue over, the electorate has the chance to vote Yes or No to abolish the law in question. The decision would be made on a simple majority basis. If the vote is no, there should be no opportunity to hold another referendum for a significant period (e.g. two years).
This policy effectively introduces the citizenry as a part-time, voluntary “house of review” that exercises a “citizen’s veto” over bad government policy. The politicians would retain responsibility for introducing new legislation but in the knowledge that grossly unpopular laws, taxes or regulations could potentially be repealed.
If such a process were in place, the ACT Liberal Democrats believe that much of the debate over the ACT Light Rail program would not have taken place, nor the debates over whether government has a “mandate”.
The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes there are too many laws, taxes, regulations, mandatory licensing systems, hand-outs, rebates, off-sets and too much government in general. Each year the ACT government introduces dozens of new pieces of legislation and hundreds of pages of regulations and spending programs. Unfortunately, much of this legislation is never reviewed.
As the library of government legislation grows, the transparency of government decreases. It is simply not possible for anyone to wade through the mountains of government programs and assess their continued importance and success. Unnecessary or counter-productive laws remain on the books simply out of inertia.
The solution to this problem is to routinely include a sunset clause in legislation. When a new policy is introduced it will automatically lapse within a certain time-frame, no greater than 20 years. If the policy continues to make sense and has popular support then the legislation can be re-introduced. However, if the policy is no longer relevant or does not provide a clear benefit, then it can be allowed to lapse. Over time this approach will help to weed out excessive government legislation and impose greater accountability on the government.
Long term laws (that do not have sunset clauses) could be introduced with a super-majority of the Legislative Assembly. This would allow laws with broad support (such as laws against murder and theft) to remain permanently in force while obliging the government of the day to defend and justify all other legislation.
Such long term laws could still be repealed with a simple majority of the Legislative Assembly (or by the citizens through a citizen initiated vote).
The ACT Liberal Democratic Party would make voting a right rather than an obligation and give residents back their voting freedom.
The right to do something implies that you have a choice not to do that thing. It would be absurd to say that Australians have the “right” to pay tax. Paying tax is a legal obligation, not a right. Under current laws, voting is also a legal obligation rather than a right.
The right to vote is a civil freedom, like free speech or free association. But free speech does not imply a requirement to speak and free association does not imply a requirement to join clubs or movements. Likewise, the freedom to vote should not imply a requirement to vote.