Anyone can start a petition to ask for a nationwide referendum, known as a ‘citizens initiated referendum’.
For a referendum to be held, you must get signatures in support of holding a referendum on your question from over 10% of eligible voters nationwide. There are several processes to be followed before you can begin collecting signatures.
These are set out in the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. Under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993, non-binding referendums can be held on any subject. There are seven steps in the process. These steps are:
- A referendum proposal is submitted to the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
- The Clerk advertises the proposed question. The Act allows 28 days for submissions and three months in total for the determination of the final wording of the question.
- The Clerk, after consulting with the promoter and any other person, determines the final wording of the question.
- The organiser gathers the signatures of at least ten percent of registered electors and delivers the petition to the Clerk within 12 months of the publication of the determination. The petition lapses if it is not delivered within this time.
- The petition is checked for compliance. If all is correct the Speaker presents the petition to the House of Representatives. If there are insufficient signatures, the Clerk certifies that the petition has lapsed. The promoter may re-submit the petition with additional signatures within two months of certification that it has lapsed.
- The Governor-General sets a date for the referendum within one month from the date of presentation. The referendum must be held within a year of the date of presentation unless 75% of all members of the House vote to defer it.
- The referendum is held and the result is declared. The result is indicative only and is not binding on the Government.