FAQ

How can we trust you will keep your election promises?

A:

Your People Decide representative is contracted to vote with voters on Bills in Parliament so they are legally bound to keep their election promises. This makes your People Decide representative unique and completely accountable.

Can anyone vote?

A:

Yes. Anyone can vote or choose not to vote. Voting is strictly controlled, so there can only be one vote per person on any Bill.

Is voting compulsory and does it cost anything?

A:

No, it is not compulsory to vote. You decide which Bills you want to vote on. Bills will not be brought into law until there is a required number of votes. So if you wish to support a Bill your vote is important.

There is no cost.

Can you change your vote on a Bill?

A:

Yes. Only your latest vote on a Bill before the final reading in Parliament will be counted as your vote.

When do you vote with the people?

A:

Your People Decide representative votes with the people when 1 or more voters in your electorate and a majority of more than 50% votes in a particular way.

How will voters understand what they are voting on?

A:

There are numerous structures in place to ensure voters understand what they are voting on:

a) MPs and Senators submit Bills to Parliament. To ensure a Bill gets passed your People Decide candidate has to listen to, communicate and ensure voters understand the Bills being voted on;

b) There are a minimum of two votes on each Bill. Voters have a second chance to consider the vote. Voters also get a minimum of six weeks to consider Bills. If the government needs to 'rush' through a Bill for emergency reasons it must have a sunset clause of maximum 90 days;

c) Voters will have to read a summary on the Bill before they vote, developed collaboratively by voters using open-source software;

d) The greatest thing about this is that it has the potential to completely change and improve our society! The more responsibility people have the more they have to consider their decisions! The more people learn the more informed they become. This system educates by building more awareness, depth of knowledge and engagement. If a Bill gets in that voters don’t want they can’t blame the politicians any more. Voters who voted will consider their vote more carefully next time. Voters that did not vote will consider voting;

e) We also believe when voters make a decision that is tangible and they can see the outcome, they will spend more time considering their decision. At the moment when ticking a box on the ballot paper it is hard to see what it represents and the outcome; and

f) There are numerous safeguards in place in the People Decide Constitution. In the beginning voters will be able to vote on single issue Bills, only when this proves itself, will voters be able to vote on mechanisms such as Supply and Confidence, Appropriation Bills and Tariffs. People Decide can intervene if there is clear misuse, manipulation, obstruction or tampering of a vote.

What happens when there is a divide in public opinion?

A:

When there is a divide in public opinion People Decide representatives are forced to talk to their constituents and determine what we all would accept. It means compromises on both sides but you get a long term sustainable solution for the future, likely with additional benefits, because it has been considered and discussed with the community.

The New Democracy Foundation has done research that shows citizen juries come up with reasonable interpretations of proposals and what the people want.

See Case Study 1 - Asylum Seekers

...read more

What safeguards are there? What if a vote requires specialist understanding?

A:

We have numerous safeguards in place.

  • The Australian Constitution can only be changed by a referendum and the judiciary interprets and shapes laws.
  • People Decide recommends enshrining human rights in the Constitution to make it stronger.
  • At a Federal level there are two houses of Parliament.
    The Senate will be able to review Bills and listen to experts, and there will normally be months between votes.
  • Bills need to be submitted by MPs and Senators.
    MPs and Senators can still stop Bills at the First and Second Readings in Parliament.
  • Bills must be considered for at least six weeks.
  • If the government needs to get an emergency Bill through it must have a sunset clause of maximum 90 days otherwise People Decide representatives vote against it.
  • Ministerial directives, budget, supply and confidence Bills are not voted on by voters.
  • If there is any evidence of rigged or fraudulent voting we can intervene.
  • This is the first step in completely changing our system of government for the better.
    That's a wonderful thing! If a Bill gets in that voters don’t want they can’t blame the politicians any more. Voters who voted will consider their vote more carefully next time. Voters that did not vote will consider voting. This brings more education, awareness and engagement.
  • Things to remember
    Initially, we may only have one or two seats in Parliament and so we may not have much practical impact. But this gives us time to refine our model and improve it.

Please read FAQs

What about minority groups?

A:

There are three levels of government. We plan to get Participatory Democracy in all levels. This is important for representing minority groups.

  • The Australian Constitution gives us certain rights and common law more;
  • We believe getting human rights enshrined in The Australian Constitution would be helpful for this model;
  • Federal government considers policies that affect all of us and has the Senate as a house of review;
  • State governments consider policies that affect us at a state level. Due to control of funding the federal government has a reasonable amount of control over the States. There are national laws they must abide by too; and
  • Local government considers issues that affect us at a local level. This means if a minority group lives in a particular area they may be able to put in place norms that are important to them (if it does not affect others).

We will get to a point where voters will be able to suggest and develop policy at all levels of government.

If enough people contribute over a period of time, like Wikipedia has shown, you get a reasonable document. It can then be handed to experts to draft into legislation and submitted to parliament to be voted on by voters.

The public is an enormous resource of information and ideas and can contribute to making ingenious, expert and sustainable solutions that represent all of us.

What is a sunset clause?

A:

Voters get a minimum of six weeks to consider Bills. If the government needs to pass an emergency Bill voters can vote on it but it must have a sunset clause of, meaning it will expire after, a maximum 90 days, otherwise People Decide representatives vote no on the Bill.

Is the technology secure?

A:

Everything is done online these days, including banking, and People Decide uses standard security features. Voting is anonymous and in the back-end of our system we plan to keep voter's personal details separate from the votes cast. We also plan to cross-check votes with algorithms and a network of independent electronic scrutineers.

In addition to that, voters have six (6) weeks to vote on an issue, the voting is transparent, people can see the votes increase or decrease as voters vote, enabling independent analysis, identification and mitigation of issues. The technology is open-source so can be independently checked.

2016 Census in Australia

On August 9th the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Census websites were attacked by a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

This is basically a process where many computers send signals to one website and overload it, forcing it to shut down, pretty much like a traffic jam. Things can be put in place to mitigate this.

People Decide is also very different from the Census. It holds much less personal data and voters get 6 weeks to vote on issues. Most DoS attacks last a short period. The votes are also transparent and voters can change their vote allowing independent analysis, identification and mitigation of issues.

What about people who don't know how or can't use technology?

A:

We think voters will vote on average a few times a year on major issues or issues that interest them. In 2015 nearly 80% of Australians had access to a smartphone(1). Voters can vote at any time during the duration of a Bill in Parliament, which is often months and we have put a mechanism in place to ensure it is at least 6 weeks, see "What is a sunset clause?". Voters who don't have internet access can go to the library, get help from family or friends who have a smartphone or tablet, or those in nursing homes will likely have a carer who can help during this period. In extreme circumstances, we have a mobile voting unit.

Mobile voting unit

1. Mobile Consumer Survey 2015 - Deloitte Australia

What is democracy?

A:

Democracy is a form of government where the people are meant to participate in the proposal, development and establishment of laws by which their society is run.

In most modern western countries we have representative democracy. We elect representatives to make decisions for us, we indirectly participate.

What is participatory, representative, direct and deliberative democracy?

A:

Participatory democracy is the process of emphasising the broad participation of voters in the direction and operation of government. It could be considered a combination of representative, direct and deliberative democracy.

We believe all are important.

Representative democracy allows us to elect leaders whose job it is to keep an eye on the bigger picture, provide insight and direction, consult experts, and assist when there is a divide in public opinion. Your People Decide representative has to communicate, develop and submit Bills to Parliament.

Direct democracy allows the people to vote on Bills in Parliament. If voters vote with a majority, People Decide representatives are contracted to vote with you on Bills.

Deliberative democracy allows the people to debate and discuss Bills before voting. You have to read and can contribute to summaries developed collaboratively by voters on Bills before you vote.

How is it different from a referendum, plebiscite or Brexit?

A:

People Decide is very different from a referendum or plebiscite.

Referendums and plebiscites are one-off, they don't come around often and voters cannot change their vote. The public is not used to them. Therefore, the public level of understanding of the process and the issues trying to be solved may be limited. It is hard to turn them around or revive a failed attempt. They can have a low feeling of public engagement. This can lead to the community venting frustration and anger at the political process through the vote.

This happened with Brexit!

Instead of making a considered vote on the issue (informed vote), some voters voted in protest against the government (protest vote). It was also used to force a change of Prime Minister for political purposes.

What is a Referendum?

In Australia at a federal level, a referendum generally refers to votes to amend the Constitution under Section 128 of the Constitution. So it is only to change the Constitution, many issues we face day-to-day are not considered constitutional. States also run referendums but they are generally considered plebiscites under the federal understanding.

What is a Plebiscite?

A plebiscite is a vote on an important public question, the question, the terms and conditions of how the vote will be held is decided by parliament not voters. The vote is also non-binding, MPs, Senators and councillors may interpret the result differently to voters and can decide how or not to implement it.

In summary, referendums and plebiscites keep the current political system the way it is and can be used to appease the public disaffected with the current political system.

People Decide

People Decide is participatory democracy, it is a combination of representative, deliberative and direct democracy. It is completely different from a referendum and plebiscite. It is an ongoing, voluntary and transparent process that allows people to have real engagement in the political process, such as:

a) People get to vote on the Bills and decisions tabled in Parliaments and councils, not the Constitution;

b) MPs, Senators and councillors are contracted to vote with the people. They are bound to vote with the majority vote of voters on Bills and decisions in Parliaments and councils;

c) Voters get a minimum 6 weeks to consider and vote on Bills and decisions; and

d) Voters can see in real-time the vote result change as voters vote and are able to reconsider and change their vote.

People Decide recommends referendums for changing the Constitution and this is required by Section 128 of the Constitution but together with People Decide to allow voters to vote on the Bills and decisions in Parliaments and councils, creating a more informed public and hopefully better society.

Is it being done anywhere else?

A:

There are many participatory democracy initiatives in the world but very few offer representatives that are contracted to vote with the people.

Direct democracy has been in Switzerland since the later Middle Ages. In Switzerland two cantons Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden continue to use the Landsgemeinde, the Swiss form of direct democracy. Other cantons abandoned it because federal law made it impractical.

The lessons learnt from Switzerland include but are not limited to positive outcomes such as people voting for what is best for society, for example, when the need presented clearly the people raised taxes twice. A negative outcome has been people voting on human rights. The Australian Constitution can be not changed without a referendum and Australia has common law so the judiciary shapes laws through precedents, however People Decide recommends enshrining human rights in the Constitution to make it stronger.

With the advent of the Internet there has been a renewed interest in direct democracy.

The world’s first direct democracy Internet party was Demoex in Sweden, it had a seat in local government from 2002 - 2013. It lost its seat when it focussed on trying to win a federal seat.

How does it work legally?

A:

People Decide representatives sign a Deed Poll with their electorate. So any voters can take them to court if they don't vote with the people on a Bill. People Decide representatives are also bound by the Terms and Conditions of the People Decide voting system. Actions can be taken against them before court if they break this.

How much time will it take? How many Bills are there per year?

A:

It is as easy as clicking a button, however make sure you register with People Decide now to avoid any delays in the future.

In Federal Parliament there may be an average of one Bill per day. However, many Bills do not proceed past the First or Second Readings, or Senate Hearings in Parliament and you can't vote on Appropriation, Supply and Confidence Bills, and Tariffs. The number of Bills you can vote on may be much less. It's also your choice what Bills you vote on.

How was People Decide founded? Does it have any affiliations?

A:

Karel Boele started People Decide to form a real alternative to government. To make a more representative, effective, efficient and stable form of government.

Karel founded and is director of Jnana Australia, Australia’s first consultancy specialising in complementary currency and participatory democracy. Participatory democracy has been a passion of his for decades.

The first known attempt in Australia at internet direct democracy was the Real Democracy Byron Shire (RDBS) group who designed a prototype system and tried to convince local council to adopt it in the early 2000s, Karel met some of the original members of RDBS who helped found People Decide and draft its constitution to ensure voters are informed about the issues being voted on.

Separately and with no association to RDBS, Berge Sarkissian started Senator Online, now Online Direct Democracy for the 2007 federal election. Coincidently, Berge and Karel met and Karel was the campaign director for Senator Online in the lead-up to the 2013 election.

Feeling the need for a participatory democracy group that was interested in developing a real alternative to government, a strong focus on ensuring an informed vote and funded by the people, Karel started People Decide with the help of some of the founding members of RDBS. People Decide and Senator Online are not associated in any way.

People Decide has no affiliations.

What is the difference between People Decide and Online Direct Democracy (ODD)?

A:

They are quite different and serve different purposes.

The main difference is that People Decide aims to develop a more stable and effective government made of MPs and Senators contracted to vote with the people. We do not believe getting one Senator elected (like other minor parties) is sustainable.

We have no intention of running an opinion polling organisation.

We are focused on ensuring voters understand the Bills they are voting on. We will set up a tool for voters to collaboratively develop summaries of Bills.

People Decide has laid out in its constitution how it will open more up to voters as the model is tested, refined and proven, and more experience is gained.

We do not receive any significant funding from any particular organisation or individual.

We have built the technology. We use open-source software.

Karel Boele, currently People Decide's main candidate was the campaign director for Senator Online leading up to the 2013 Federal election. There may be opportunity for them to work together in the future.

How will you vote on Bills and Issues related to war?

A:

People Decide representatives vote against Bills and Issues to pre-emptively enter war where there is no mandate to only use the Australian Armed Forces in self-defence situations.