Hardly a week has gone by over the last year or so where there hasn’t been a petition put to me imploring my signature.
Most of these have been quite ridiculous, for example, petitioning the Governor General to sack the Abbott Government over one of many listed reasons. I don’t think that sacking the Abbott Government is ridiculous, so to speak, I just think it’s ridiculous petitioning the Governor General to do it on behalf of a group of unhappy constituents. The GG just isn’t going to do it, and certainly cannot do it for the reasons outlined in the petitions being generated by the score.
Personally, I consider the causes behind these petitions extremely valid. I don’t like what the Abbott Government is doing (though I won’t list my reasons here). I want to see the government removed, of course, but I won’t waste my time by signing any petition trying to promote that outcome.
Historically, petitions to the government or GG have succeeded only in fizzling out, basically because there’s only a remote chance that anybody apart from the signatories actually ever saw them.
Let’s be real: The government isn’t going to close Manus Island because of a petition. The government isn’t going to increase funding to the homeless because of a petition. The government isn’t going to protect the Great Barrier Reef because of a petition. The government isn’t going to release captured aliens from Pine Gap because of a petition.
They won’t even see the petitions. They’re going nowhere.
But there is a better way. Forget petitions as we know them, and replace them with the American system known as ‘We the People‘.
‘We the People’ is a section of the whitehouse.gov website for petitioning the current administration.
Here are some quotes from the site which explain how it works:
“We the People is a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government. It is a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. If a petition gathers enough signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response. We the People helps the White House understand the views of the American people and have a focused and civil conversation with them”.
“Anyone 13 or older can create or sign an online petition seeking a federal government action on a range of issues. Then it’s up to the petition creator and signers to build support for the petition by gathering more signatures”.
“There are two critical thresholds for We the People. First, a minimum number of signatures is necessary for the petition to be publicly listed on We the People and searchable. Second, a minimum number of signatures is necessary in a given amount of time in order for the petition to be reviewed by the White House, distributed to the appropriate policy officials within the Administration and receive an official response. This response will be posted and linked to the petition on WhiteHouse.gov, as well as emailed to all of the petition signers. Petitions that do not cross this threshold in the given timeframe will be removed from the site”.
“To cross the first threshold and be searchable within WhiteHouse.gov, a petition must reach 150 signatures within 30 days”.
“To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days”.
I think that’s a great system and would love to see it used in Australia.
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