Sixty-one per cent is a good result by anyone's calculation, and hopefully that is that for Australia's same-sex marriage debate.

There was much criticism of the postal vote, but the turnout was high and the result was clear, so surely this is an excellent example of democracy well executed.

Hell, we insist on voting for hospital boards and councils, where hardly anyone turns up. Democracy is at its best when it is enthusiastically embraced.

I've got to say, I was disappointed at how many people didn't want a vote. How they would rather the government make up their mind for them.

Of course that was the way it was supposed to be, they only got to vote because Australia's Parliament is the most extraordinary mess, and a very good reason why you should never have an upper house. And all of that was before the nationality shambles came to wreck the lower house.

Anyway, the fear of a vote was driven by the fear of the quality of the debate. And in one sense those who worried, were right to be. It was a shabby little affair. Hijacked by the zealots and the barrow pushers on both sides.

But what price the freedom to have your say?


The very reason this particular democratic tool was used, the plebiscite, was because the government didn't have the numbers in the House.

Now if the Parliament is representative of the people, how is it that a nation in this case can think one thing and yet not have it reflected on their behalf? Answer: because parliaments are not representative of the people. The concept that you send people to the capital to speak on your behalf is a myth, and this whole debate shows it.

Which is why, of course, some countries and some states in America hold regular votes on a huge variety of issues that would never get anywhere if it wasn't for a very direct form of democracy.

We have a mechanism here, the non-binding referendum, where you collect enough signatures we all get to have a vote. Trouble is, it's been abused. No-one votes, and the result is ignored.

But in Australia's case, the numbers tell the story. They were engaged, involved and passionate. It got a bit rough a bit ugly, so what?

Robust exchange is no bad thing. It reflects the sophistication, or lack thereof, of your fellow citizen. Life is not homogenised. Not everyone is reasoned and grounded and articulate, welcome to the real world. But as hard as that may be, it's no reason to run from it.

Democracy of this type is to be treasured.