Protest movement on the rise Down Under
THE Yellow Vest movement has launched in Australia, with groups popping up all over social media.
Named after the high-visibility work jackets, the now-global movement started in France last year as a political movement for economic justice, which eventually led to demonstrations around the country that have been ongoing since November.
While the goals of the Australian groups are similar - to put control of the government back in the hands of the people - some vary on the way they hope to achieve the objectives.
Two of the largest groups are Yellow Vests Australia and Yellow Vests Australia and Worldwide, both on Facebook, with the latter started by former Sunshine Coast One Nation candidate Mike Holt.
Yellow Vest Australia member Phillip J. Watt said the movement was against putting profits before people and the environment.
He said reform was needed in a number of areas, including private money in politics, banking reform, tax reform and to ensure all legislation aligned with the Constitution and the sovereignty principle.
"Ultimately, it is shining a light on the oppression by the corporate and political elite who have scammed our social system to enrich themselves at the expense of the people and the environment, and therefore demands authentic reforms to the core flaws of our system design," he said.
Mr Holt, 71, of Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast, said his group, Yellow Vests Australia and Worldwide, stemmed from discussions with French Yellow Vest organiser Roman Light.
One of his group's main goals was to put the government in the hands of the people through citizen-initiated referenda and to eliminate the need for political parties.
"Our goal is to bring in citizen-initiated referendums, on all topics, so people can have a say in how they are governed," he said.
"The thing with citizen-initiated referendums is they put the government in the hands of the people.
"When our founding fathers wrote the Australian Constitution they gave the power to the people by voting in Section 128, but they gave only Parliament the power to hold referendums.
"There are other Yellow Vests in Australia and we're urging them all to get on board citizen-initiated referendums."
Mr Holt, who was One Nation's candidate for Fairfax in 2013, said the group would also push to reduce electorates to as small as 5000 voters and to then combine 50 electorates into one regional government.
"Each electorate would vote for their own representative, so that would mean 50 representatives," he said.
"Then we'd vote for one person to represent us in federal government. We've done the sums and we'd say less than 100 people would be set up when there's about 350 or more now, not counting all the hangers on.
"We're paying massive amounts of money to be over-governed so by reducing the number of votes in our electorate, we'd elect one and that person would be directly accountable to the voters and could be recalled if they don't perform."
The Vietnam veteran said political parties would be eliminated.
"There'd be no more political parties. If that one representative does not carry out the wishes of the electorate they can be replaced," he said.
"We could have a series of rolling or special elections. That would make an accountable government."
Mr Holt said the organization had a provisional five-point plan but it was open to debate.
"This plan lays out a way to bring our Commonwealth of Australia back and rebuild our country as a sovereign nation," he said.
"We don't want to become a Republic because then the political parties will dominate and dictate over us.
"They'd then control us lock stock and barrel. The people would have no power at all we would never have a say in our government."
He said the Yellow Vest movement was not to be confused with the Reclaim Australia movement, a far-right nationalist protest group.
The French Yellow Vests movement was formed via social networks and was started as a group protesting an anticipated 2019 increase in a carbon tax on fuels, particularly diesel, in that country.
It morphed into a mass protest against the French president's policies and top-down style of governing.
An online petition reached 300,000 signatures and led to mass demonstrations, including road blocks that started in November.