18 October 2003

Go to the people on legislation in dispute, Mr Howard

The Democrats offer a very different proposal to John Howard's to deal with legislation in dispute.

If the two houses of Parliament cannot agree on legislation, then the best solution is to take it to the people. The Democrats believe legislation in dispute could be resolved through binding plebiscites, asking the opinion of the nation.

If the Prime Minister genuinely wants a mandate, then he can put the legislation to the voters.

An example would be a deadlock over the further sale of Telstra.

Under Mr Howard's preferred option, he would wait three months, hold a joint sitting, pass the legislation and sell Telstra. There would be no way to stop him.

But under the Democrats' proposal, he could go to a normal election with all the disputed legislation and ask the Australian people: 'Do you want to sell Telstra?'

While he's at it, he could ask the people 'Do you want medicines to be more expensive on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?' and 'Do you want more disabled people thrown off the disability support pension?', because these are the other pieces of legislation the Senate is refusing to pass.

Unlike Mr Howard, we trust the Australian people.

The Democrats' proposals are based on S5B Disagreements�referendum of the NSW constitution. Trusting the people is a much better idea than expanding the already autocratic powers of the executive.

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