Meanwhile however, via Direct Democracy, I note that the Lib Dems’ sister party in Australia – the Democrats – are calling for citizen-initiated referendums at the moment. Senator Andrew Murray writes:
While recognising that Australia is a representative democracy and supporting what that entails, I support direct democracy in defined circumstances because it promotes popular engagement with the political process on questions of public importance, particularly in matters that affect people immediately and specifically.
Increasingly we need to recognise that local people are best served when they are able to determine what happens in their own backyard, whether it is the placement of a pulp mill, the location of a nuclear power plant, or the amalgamation of their local council with another.
Embarrassingly for us, he goes on to quote David Cameron approvingly, as if he is the leading the vanguard of democratic reform in the UK. In truth, even the relatively radical Direct Democracy group are fairly cautious when it comes to citizen initiated referendums, and Cameron doesn’t even go that far. The fact that he finds common cause with Cameron is partly to embarrass Cameron’s fellow (small-c) conservative John Howard, but its is nonetheless embarrassing (for me, at least) that the Lib Dems are unable to say to them “us too!”