PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4399


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 17/05/1977

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 4399

FOR PRESS 17 M~ AY 1977
It is very' good to be in Rockhampton again in th-e last week of
the referendum campaign-.
Across Queensland, and aoxoss Australia, support for all ' Lour
referendum proposals is strengthening, and I am confident that
they will be successful on Saturday, because they are fair, just
and sensible, and because they will make a mnajor conitr~ bution
to constitutional development of our country.
They are not like many other referendums which were initiated
solely by Canberra and which. sought to increase Canberra's power.
They come from the 1976 Hobart Constitutional Conventioa-in which.
all. State Parliaments, the Federal Parliament, and local government
were represented. They were supported at the Convention in which
the States bad 72 of the 92 votes aid the Commonwealth had only 16.
Anyone who says
eCxoprlmaniwne, aalwtahy' sth ipsot whbeaarts itacht e sfteah cet r eexfpeerTnhesene d uCmoofsi noatnrh; ee tSaott a itensc reshasoeu ldt het ry toZf aoly1
dTehle egCaotnevse nttoio nt hioe vCerownshteilmtuintgiloyn als uCpopnovretrendt jtohae. rpTrhien cSiptalet5e s bbeahdin d7 2. afll
four proposals.
The Queensland GoVernment will have to waste even more of the
* ta-xpayers money on misleading anxti-referendun advert isemTen ts if
it is to have any hope of explaining this fact away, and I do not
believe the people of Queensland will be misled or frightened by
deceptive advertising.
It was not just the Convention that supported the changes. All
the major federal parties support tham on a bipartisen basis. 0
Each of the four proposals passed in. the HIouse of Representatives
without a single dissent, and all were passed by anm overwhielming
majority in the Senate. On 21 March, a majority of Que-ensland
State ' National Party MPs supportedI all 11oux propQsals.
Unfortunately they have somersaulted since. But the National
Party Organisation is firm-ly behind the referendxims, and some*
distinguished Queensland statesmnen and women Sir-Gordon Chalk,
Dame Annabelle Rankin and Six Charltes Adermann, have put thmselves V
behind the referendum.
Queenslanders have traditionally takjcn a leading role in
cons ti tuti onal refo-ni, voting in favour of referendums on no less P
than 18 of the 32 referendums since Federation -a far higher
proportion thtan some of the southe'. rn states. I feel corif idenit
that by Saturday night that figuxe will be increased to 22.. / We

14e deplore the Queensland Governments use of public money to run ani
intensive advertising c& wrpaiqr1 against. the, referendum., The A. B. C.
provides egual time for publicising both sides of the case. Two
hours for the Yes case to b& e piut. and -to -houirs f or advocates of the
?-No case to put their views. _ No Federal fundu are being spent on
advertising the Yes campaign.~ Yet the Qi eens land Government is
spending-huge an. ounts. of . taxpayers ' fund-~ mounit -an--aclertiing__...
campaign which grossly distorts the~ f" ots,"
I-1-. e all know th-at Joh -Bjelke-Peter~ an put-th-e/ interests of Queensland
first Ahen. be fogtagaiinst the 10~ bor Governmnent's attempts to
inv-ade areas of States rights. And we applaud him for this. Buthis
opposition to these referendun~ tz-is completely unjustified-. The
only way it can be explained4 is that-h-v1n g once Justifiably -got
on the anti-cai erra 0orse, he fi~~ iƱ t?. dE o~~.
this is tragic-
These referendums are our opportunity to use the amending process the
Founding Fathers built in Constitution which we are-all rightly proud of is strengthened and
continues to serve the needs of our nation.
The first of the four refere-ndum proposals is for simultaneous election
for the House of PRepresentatives and the senate. The simultaneous
elections proposal was supported unanimously at the-Convent-ion. Those
in favour included Nit. Knox, M4r. Hewitt, Mr. Lickiss, Mr. Porter, Sir
Charles Court, and not leas., Oxr. Bjel-ke-Petersen. Every representati
of the Qu--eensland Government. supported the simnultaneous elections
proposal just seven months ago at the Constitutional Convention. And
this siupport was not surprising.'.--
They bave a question to answjer, why di-' d they change. When we passed
_ the. legislation.* for.-this. referendum we had every reason to be lieve
that Mr. Blelke-Patersen . an d . thie Queensland . TCovernnt--Wdb--plte
behind the legislation. They had voted for it at the Convention.
it is :-iust plain commuon sense that Federal Elections always beheld at
the -same time---that-you should-only -have to Vote in Fbderal ElectioJ
when you have to choose 7-ustralia's Government. This proposal means
we will not have. to vote in as many Federal Elections. It will also
protect the less populous States liLke Queensland,~ When there are
separate elections for the House of Representatives, political leaders
are tempted to confine their campaign to New South Wales and Victoria,~
which have over 60% of House of Representatives seats-But if the
Senate, in which all States are equally Tepresented, is elected at
the same time, the cappaign must be fought vigorously in all six Stat
and * the views of the people of the 5maller States are much more
influential. Some have said that this referendum is unnecessary that simultaneou
elections can be achieved by bringing the House of Representatives
election forward to coincide with that of the Senate. But that is
neither practical nor a desirable method of achieving simultaneous
elections-. Unless the Constitutionl is changed, the only way to bringD
the elections tocgther woul~ d be repeatedly to cut short the tem of
the House of Representatives. The three year term is however alread,
/ relativelI E F I, Fv~. 4

relatively short one of thie Shortest Parliamtentary terms in the
democratic world. I'urther reducing it would damage good Government-.
i4ost importantly, this proposal will maintain and strengthen the
Senate and the protection it gives Elie States. if this proposal
is not passed, the future of the Senate will ultimately be put in
jeopardy. it was quite by chance that in November 1975 when the House of
Representatives was dissolved, bills ey-dsted which created the
circumstances permitting a Doiuble Dissolution of both Hlouses. Had
Liberal Senators not been liable to face the people themselves, so
that their actions miqht be Jiudged, a number of themn would not have
agreed to block supply. 1, myself, would never have sought the
blocking of supply from a Senate that would not itself have also
faccd the people of Australia. The Senators attitude was sotundly
based because if any Bouse of Parliament were to send another House
to the polls, while not. itself being judqed by the people, it woulld
not survive.
If you subscribe to the fundamental principle that th-e Senate should
not be able to force the Government t~ o the polls unless the Senators
t-hemselves face the voters at the same time, the Constitution milst
be changed to ensure that this will always occur. You can do thisby
voting Yes to.-simultaneous elctions, on 21 May.
Unless the present situation is changed, .1 can foresee two
alternative consequence 8. The Senate-might refuse to check a bad
Government % nless there happened to exist the circuim-stances which r
would permit; a Double Dissolution.. Al tern at ively, if Senators were
to make the Bouze of Representatives go to an election without facing
the people themselves, then there would be a public outcry against
the Senate which could lead to the Senate' s powerB being restricted
or abolished. flither of these alternatives would be bad for
democratic goverment, bad for the States, bad for Australia.
That is why it is important that this re -fcrre-ndun bip passed.
ANo vote on May 21 is a vote for the ultimate destruction ofI.
the Senate and one of the world's best constitutions.
The second rcferendumn proposal is that Whenever a Senator dies orf
resigns, he will be replaced, for thie remainder of his term of office,
by a M~ ember of the same party. This will quarantee that your choice
of par-ties for the Senate cannot be altered by accident or design.
Under the Constitution as it now stands, a Sep-ate vacancy can
completely change the par-ty balance. It is fundamental to our
democracy that only the people sbould determine the balance of the
parties in the Senate-. Aqain, this is of part icxxlar importanlce to
the less populated States becuase it is the Senate in which all
States are equally represented, The importance of this cannot
be understated, and the example Evan Adermann put; to me last night
brings it home. He of ten travels home from Canbcrra with almost
all the Queensland Senators. VWhat would happen, he asked, if the
aeroplane were to be Involved in a tragic! accident? Would the people
of Queensland of any state be content to make the party affiliatiorn,
of their Senators depend on some State Government observi-n a
convention that mighit be breached by considcrations of political
advantage. Constit-utions, are supposedi to rnaxe laws for this sort
of situation not allow it to depend on the political calculations
of State Governments-Once tis propcosal is accept ed, the peoples
choice will be preser-ved until they have an opportunity to ma) c
another choice at the. nc>: t electio-n. / Th-e th ird

I wzen'
I, r
4. 1' A -4.
The third referendum proposal " is to, give voters in the Australian
Capital Territory and NortherrnTerritory the basic right to vote
In all future referendums. This i-s a f~ aetal right all other
Australians have, I k, now of ' sio , rrational or reasonable argument
for denying it to Territorial -vpters. Te have the same obligations
as other Australians-They pay( tax-sl t hey are-oblicged to> obser-ve;
the laws of the Corrnonweal th, they ' v e ' 7for Membezs of Parliament
and tho outcom~ e of referenldums fif fect thei as much as they do
other Australians. Restoring this right will strengthen Australian
democracy. The fourth and final. referendurm pr, Js to set a retiring age
for Federal Judges. Hligh Court>' j.. stices. would retire at 70 and the
retirement age for other Federal. -Court jbdges would be determined
Joy Parliament. The proposal does not affect the terms of judges
already appoint ed to the Bench. Most jobs have retirement ages,
and for good reason. Judges, are as affected by old age as the
rest of uts. In Queensland the judges retiring age is set at
Opposition to the same retiring age for Federal judges certainly
cannot be based on any view that this adversely affects Queensland's
judicial system-It is only fair that after the age of 70 responsibility
should be handed over to younger people. This is even more
Important now that the new system of Federal Family Courts has been
set up.
All1 fouy referendum proposal. s are fair, just aid reasonable. They
have been extensively vonsideied. They have the support of a-li
major Federal parties. They do not involve more power for Canberra.
They will strengthen the Senate :. aad ensuxe that it can better look
after tJ-io interests of the State. They will mak~ e the Constitution.
Work better.
The polls show tbat all referendums have : sbstantial and influential
Stipport in all States. Support for the four proposals is increasing
in Queensland, despite the expensive and futile attempts to distort
thbe proposals. But those people who think the referendum proposition.,
shou-ld be passed, cannot afford to be comrplacent. The referendums
will not pass themselves.
All people who care about constitutional and political reform in
this country have a responsibility to work for the referendums.
If we all do this, then the referendums will be passed, and we will
have n Constitution. which serves Australia's needs more effectively.

Transcript 4399