Absence Of Debate Colours Stealthy Referendum

The move to extend Queensland’s parliamentary terms to four years has been dubbed capricious, marking the end for democracy and accountability in the State. Highly regarded Brisbane Lawyer, community activist and republic campaigner, David Muir believes the upcoming referendum has been deliberately kept absent from public debate as the Queensland Government makes a stealthy grab for political power.

David Muir“This referendum is a vote on an extremely important public issue and so far Queenslanders have not been privy to the implications,” Mr Muir said. “Queensland is already the most vulnerable State in Australia because it’s the only State without a House of Review.  Laws can be passed in one day without proper scrutiny or debate. I believe democracy in Queensland is under threat with both sides of politics joining together in a bid to extend their parliamentary terms by one year.”

Mr Muir is well known as a champion for a direct election model for a republic and was an elected delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention. He says the vote on an extra year in parliamentary terms addresses the QueenslandConstitution, but both sides of politics have worked together to keep it away from public scrutiny.

“This referendum will be held under cover of the local authority elections,” he said. “There needs to be rigorous public debate on this referendum. All Queenslanders have a right to be aware of the implications of giving a dominant and powerful Executive an extra year in office.  Queensland has no adequate checks and balances against tyranny or capricious law making.”

“Parliament is further weakened in Queensland by the dominance of the Executive which controls our only House of Parliament. Our parliamentary committees are not entrenched and can simply be ignored. The role of Speaker has been weakened. In fact, once again both sides of politics have acted together to do so. This is all about accountability. I am very worried about a ‘one house’ parliament dominated by an executive getting so entrenched without recourse for an extra year.”

David Muir has been asked to present the NO case on the referendum by the Queensland chapter of the Australian Study of Parliament Group (ASPG) at a public forum in Parliament House in early March.

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