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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4406

THE REFERENDUM

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: 20/05/1977

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 4406

PRIME _ MI STER
FOR PBESS 20 MAY 1977
'. rHE RE PBENDUM
Tomor row is a day on which Australians can mak~ e sensible changes
to the 77-year-old Federal Constitution. It is an opportunity
to modernise the conistitution and reform it in a down-to-earth
fashicon. IT urge all Australianrs to make the most of this opportunity by
vot-ing Yes on all four questions.
Four questions are being put to youi tomorrow, as a result of
agreement reached in Hobart in October last year at; the
Constitutional Convention. All1 political paxties in all
Australian Governments, State and Federal, took part in, that
Convention. There were 72 delegates from the States, 16 from the
Feeteral Parliam~ ent and four from local goverriluents. There was
overwhelming suipport for the principles behind the questions
which are being put forward tomorrow,
That Convention was a genuine attempt to achieve constitutional.
reforni, on the basis of c:. onuon scnse and co-operation. The
principles behind the four referendum questions were noncontroversial.
The arguments in t-heir favour are simple and
clear-cut. The arcluments against them are mnixed an~ d confused,
basically because they are so wea-,.
I regret that the spiirit. which motivated all delegates in Hobart
is no longer present in some of them, but this does not alter the
fact that tho proposals being mnade by the Commonwealth axe fair
and reason~ able.
They Yna} e good sense, and I believe that tomorrow the people of
Auirt'ralia will ,-how that they too recoq. nise that these q~ uestions
are a commonsenise approach to constitutional change.
The four questions which are being put tomorrow are:
That elections for the House of Representatives and
the Senate rbouldd fa~ e* place' At' th-e ' s-ate' tine
If this is not pa-. 4_ ed, there could be four Vederal elections
over the next~ four yenys elections which the coutntry does
not need or want. In Hiobart, this proposnl was stipported / by i '. 1

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by every' one of the 72 Statte del. egates Libera e, Labor
and National country Party, Government and Oppo. s ition,
every one of tEhe 16 Federal delegates from both Government
and Opposition, and every one of the local government. I
representativc~ c. They all saw it for what. it was a
matter of simple common sense desiqIned to strengthen the
Parliament as a whole and to enhance thbe authority of the
Senate. Holding thc! House anud the Senate elections at
-the same time means that the-parties must put forward
policies applicable to all. States. For instance, no
party could calculate on winning power by concentrating on
the two major cities of Sydney and M'elbourne.
' The second question is that, should a vacancy occur in the
Senate through death or retirc-ent, the nominated replacement
should be of thet same poli~ tic al p~ arty servang out th-e balance
of the -full-term of the(. scmator lie is replacing.
This was a convention for manty years in Australian politics.
Again, it is a matter of plain fairness to ensure that a
decision made by voters at elections is preserved. I
The th-ird question is that elector-, in the Northern Territor,
ann. Ca ital Terkitory shoIdae~ o~ i rfrnusYh
other Australians.
It is quite wrong that people in the Territories should be
denied basic democratic rigihts, Referendums are counted
in two parts. The votes of Teriitory rez-idents would be
includpa in the overall Australian verdict, but not in ' that
par-it of the count wh ich reqvuirfzes a mnajority in four
of th-e six S-% tates In the year 1977, denyingq
political rights to a section, of the Australian cormunity
is sheer nonsense.
The fourth question is that Hicih Court JudgesF shouldt retire
at thc age of 710 and that a retirig j also be set for
other Federal Judges.
The -g1tates have retiring ages for their own -judges. it is
only fair that after the age of 70 judges i~ n the Federal
arena should pass the job on to yownger men.
These proposals are-all desiqrpiea to enhance the-auithjo ty of the
Senate and of the Parliament, The important distinction between
these referendum questions and some referendums in the past is that
there is absolutely no attempt to increasQ the power of the Central
Government at the expense of the State Governmients.
All these referendupas are designed to strenqthen the dcrnocratj
institutions and enhance p) oitical stabi" Ilty i-n our country.
' They would remove a means of manipulatinq the syst-em of prcoport. Jonal'
representation as tool; place at the time of the Gair affair, / Th cy

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They will give millions of dollars in unnecessary separate
Senate elections. They will give the Territory residents an
elementary right which they should have had long ago. They
do not in any way diminish the power and authority of the
State Governments or of the Senate. They are fair, reasonable
and sensible proposals.
I believe they deserve your support, and I ask tomorrow for a
Yes vote on all four questions. C

Transcript 4406