Referendum is a serious affront to democracy
Unlike other citizens across the state, residents of the Peninsula are not entitled to vote to select who will represent us on Council on September 4.
Instead we are to be offered a "referendum" about the number of councillors.
What a joke.
Under Commonwealth Law, a referendum is a vote used to approve a change to the Australian Constitution.
The rules are set out in Section 128 of the Constitution.
Importantly, the referendum question must start as a bill (ie, a proposed law) that is presented to the Australian Parliament.
If, and only if, the bill is passed by the Parliament can the proposal then be presented to Australian voters as a referendum.
To succeed, the vote must be passed by a double majority: a majority of the voters in a majority (at least four) of the states.
Voting is compulsory, and can only take place after the Australian Electoral Commission has ensured that a statement of the proposed change and an authorised summary of both the "Yes" and "No" cases has been sent to every Australian on the electoral roll.
On the Central Coast, there has been no bill passed by elected representatives.
There has been no debate by councillors.
There has been no call from the population for changes of the kind set out in our proposal.
No, this measure was decided entirely without public debate or consideration by any elected representatives whatsoever.
The scheduled referendum is not likely to save money, nor will it even be conducted by the NSW Electoral Commission.
Rather it is to be managed by a private company for a cost to ratepayers of almost $2 million, far exceeding any annual savings in payments to councillors.
This is a serious affront to democracy.
If it's not corrupt, it certainly has the feeling of a corrupt and dodgy deal about it.
Something that one might expect in a poor third world country with a failed state rather than a democratic system of government.
It's time for ordinary people to have a chance to elect representatives we choose ourselves.
We want a proper democratic process.
We want to vote and have a say in any reforms to council.
Is there anyone who would prefer a system in which the powerful manipulate rules and procedures to their own benefit, while ordinary people pay increased rates for the privilege of paying for expensive "referendums"?
That's a question we should be putting to the vote in September.
Email, 23 Jul 2021
Michael Fine, Woy Woy