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 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.