Recall proposal for NSW

The Premier of New South Wales (the state in which Sydney, Australia, is located) has received “expert” advice to introduce a system of recall elections in the state. From the SMH:

an early election could only be called with the support of 35 per cent of eligible voters, including at least 5 per cent from half the state’s electorates [districts.]

The article says the the expert commission’s report says that:

recall systems operate in 19 states of the US, the Canadian province of British Columbia, parts of Switzerland and Germany and in Liechtenstein, Bolivia, Venezuela, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

However, if I understand the NSW proposal correctly, it would allow the petitioners to demand an early dissolution of parliament. Is there anything like this among recall provisions elsewhere? I thought all other recalls were directed at individual legislators or directly elected executives, not at a legislative chamber as a whole (and thus at any government responsible to said legislature). Would the NSW proposal, if adopted, be an innovation?

One thought on “Recall proposal for NSW

  1. Yes, as far as I know, it would be unique. I recall – err, remember – a similar idea being floated by Donald Horne (popular author who originated the phrase “The Lucky Country” with his 1964 book although he intended it ironically, rather like Springsteen and “Born in the USA”), eg in his 1977 pamphlet “Power to the People: A New Australian Constitution” and other opus-es. Horne, like many other Australian intelligentsia, was outraged by the 1975 Whitlam Dismissal (in US terms, think Watergate + Bush v Gore combined, adjusted per head of population) and proposed that 40% of all voters be entitled to petition and demand the dissolution of the Lower House, as an alternative to the Upper House & [de facto] Head of State having that power if a truly disastrous PM refused to call an early election (DH did not concede that Whitlam fell into this category). Prof Michael Coper may have made a similar proposal in his highly entertaining constitutional law textbook (yes, I did use those three words in a row there) “Encounters with the Australian Constitution”. From the other side of the spectrum, Prof Geoffrey Walker called for recall not just of individual MPs (at constituency level) but of PMs and Ministers (at large) in his 1987 monograph “Initiative and Referendum: The People’s Law”, although I don’t think he included proposals for recall of an entire chamber.

    NSW was the first Aust jurisdiction to introduce fixed (well, 95% fixed) terms in 1991, and has just had 2-3 years of a monumentally unpopular State Labor govt filling out its constitutionally un-curtailable term. So NSW is likely in the mood to swing the other direction from fixed terms – ie, from the PM thinking “Yes, it would be fun to hold an early election soon?” being constitutionally insufficient to it being constitutionally unnecessary.

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