What is a Referendum?

Aug 24, 2023 | Publication

With much discussion in the media about the upcoming referendum relating to the Voice, from a legal viewpoint it is worth considering what is a referendum.

A referendum is a vote of the Australian people on a proposed change to the Australian Constitution.

A plebiscite is a vote on an issue that does not affect the Constitution.

Section 128 of the Constitution deals with the mode of altering the Constitution.

The proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Commonwealth Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six moths after its passage through both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament the proposed law shall be submitted in each State and Territory to the electors.

In order for a referendum to pass, a majority of the States and a majority of the electors must approve the proposed law (i.e. a double majority).

The votes of electors in the Australian Capacity Territory and the Northern Territory are only counted in the national vote.

Since 1901 there have been 44 proposed changes to the Constitution.  Eight changes have been passed.

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources. If you do not wish to receive newsletters from us, please let us know.

Latest Insights

New Coercive Control Laws in NSW as of 1 July 2024

From 1 July 2024, coercive control will be a crime in NSW when a person uses abusive behaviours towards a current or former intimate partner with the intention to coerce or control them. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022makes it an...

Key Rules on Discovery Procedures for Prospective Defendants

Rules 5.2 and 5.3 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005 (UCPR) provide essential guidelines on discovery aimed at identifying or locating prospective defendants. These rules are instrumental in the pre-litigation process, ensuring that applicants can gather...

5 Ways A Director Can Be Sued

Directors can be sued for all sorts of reasons.  Here are 5 of them. Reason #1: Insolvent Trading A director can be sued if the company he or she is a director of trades whilst insolvent.  A director has a duty to prevent the company trading and incurring...

7 Ways to Enforce a Judgment

After a judgment is obtained for an amount of money, there are numerous options open to a judgment creditor in relation to how to enforce the judgment (i.e. how to obtain the money which is owed pursuant to the judgment). Option #1: Issue a Bankruptcy Notice If the...

Who Can Bring a Compensation to Relatives Claim?

In the unfortunate event of a loved one's passing due to negligence or wrongful act, the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 in New South Wales outlines the parameters for pursuing compensation on behalf of the deceased. Understanding who has the legal standing to...

10 Myths of Being Sued

If you or your business are sued, there are many myths about how the legal process will pan out.  Here are 10 myths about the legal process – all are incorrect. Myth #1: The matter will definitely go to a hearing Most matters settle before a Judge decides...