Ballot on becoming a republic? I wish I could vote for a leader
TWO DECADES after his last attempt to have Australia ditch the monarchy and march ahead with its own head of state, Malcolm Turnbull is at it again.
Somehow buoyed by the "success" of the postal vote that delivered same-sex marriage to Australia, the Prime Minister reckons it's time to see if the same costly and convoluted process could deliver us a local head of state.
Of course, those who copped abuse, were fired from their workplace or were the subject of horrifying homophobia during the 2017 ballot may remember it as something other than successful - namely, a way for a government to avoid making a tough decision.
Turnbull's comments on the matter don't tell us too much yet.
To become a republic would require a change to the Constitution, which means we would need an actual referendum, not a nonsense plebiscite/survey/straw poll.
So with that in mind, it appears that the Prime Minister is so taken with postal ballots that we would hold one so Australians could decide what form our future republic would take.
Would it come before the referendum or after? Would there be a variety of options, each with their equally toxic campaign messages broadcast on television, phones and in the skies?
One thing is for sure, he wants to wait until the Queen is dead.
We'll wait just a little longer to avoid kicking our beloved 91-year-old Liz off Australia's highest pedestal.
Of course Turnbull's plan is only vaguely more bizarre than Labor's plan to hold a voluntary vote on a republic should it win office.
Labor wants to roll out a (probably costly and convoluted) ballot that nobody is forced to fill out, thereby gauging how we feel about ditching the royals. Bill Shorten isn't necessarily waiting for the Queen's reign to end.
He has vowed to go ahead with a Yes/No vote as soon as Labor convinces enough voters to put it into power.
No word yet from either side on how exactly these surveys would be done. Turnbull is talking a postal ballot, but surely he knows that an online component would help motivate those under 60 to actually vote.
This isn't like the same-sex marriage ballot where it was actively designed to discourage young people from participating.
If Labor really does go down a Yes/No path, a vote to lose the Queen will mean we have to hold another vote -- this time a referendum -- to do it properly.
How many votes is too many?
This was always going to be a key danger of Turnbull's same-sex marriage ballot. A decision that ought to have been made by the politicians we pay was foisted on to the people.
Now both the Coalition and Labor see public ballots as the best way to make a difficult decision.
Rather than risk alienating voters over a strong and considered stance, they can take it to the people and let them blame each other.
The problem with having a government ruled by the people, is that we're so often wrong.
The government - whatever its shade - ought to be finding the best possible way for Australia to become a republic. From there its position can be argued about, scrutinised and either accepted or rejected.
If their idea doesn't cut it, then it's back to the drawing board.
This new trend of politicians throwing their hands up must not become a well-trodden path for Australia. The public doesn't have access to the depth of knowledge that government has -- researchers, experts, experienced policy makers and lawyers ought to be weighing in.
There are those among us who have "done the research" and found vaccines are evil, the world is flat and that the moon landing is fake.
A straw poll where voters are asked, "Which way should we do this?" is not democracy, it's cowardice. If you need opinions, ask a polling company to make some calls - this is their expertise.
If we can't rely on politicians to do their jobs, it's time to vote them out and find a new batch.
Maybe someone who knows how to lead.
Owen Jacques is Online News Editor with News Corp Australia.