1906 Australian Senate elections referendum

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The Australian referendum of 12 December 1906 approved an amendment to the Australian constitution related to the terms of office of federal senators. Technically it was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill 1906, which after being approved in the referendum received the royal assent on 3 April 1907. [1] The amendment moved the date of the beginning of the term of members of the Senate from 1 January to 1 July so that elections to the federal House of Representatives and the Senate could occur simultaneously.

Constitution of Australia United Kingdom legislation

The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the government of the Commonwealth of Australia operates, including its relationship to the States of Australia. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is referred to as the "Constitution" in the remainder of this article. The Constitution was approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies, and the approved draft was enacted as a section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new law. In some countries, it is synonymous with a plebiscite or a vote on a ballot question.

Royal assent Formal approval of a proposed law in monarchies

Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others that is a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality; even in those nations which still, in theory, permit the monarch to withhold assent to laws, the monarch almost never does so, save in a dire political emergency or upon the advice of their government. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised often by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been very rare since the eighteenth century.

Contents

The 1906 vote was the first referendum ever held in the Commonwealth of Australia and concerned the first amendment proposed to the constitution since its enactment. The referendum was held in conjunction with the 1906 federal election.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

The 1906 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 12 December 1906. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Protectionist Party minority government led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin retained government, despite winning the fewest House of Representatives votes and seats of the three parties. Parliamentary support was provided by the Labour Party led by Chris Watson, while the Anti-Socialist Party, led by George Reid, remained in opposition.

Overview

Prior to the amendment the constitution provided, in section 13, that Senate term would begin on 1 January and end on 31 December. By 1906 it was felt to be unlikely that Senate terms would generally coincide with House of Representatives terms, and that for this reason a change would be beneficial. The proposed amendment provided for Senate terms to begin on 1 July and end on 30 June. Odger's Australian Senate Practice noted that the main reason for the change was to enable simultaneous elections to be held in March, which at the time was considered the most likely period in which Federal elections would be held. [2] The amendment was uncontroversial, dealing with the mechanical matter of how to rotate Senate terms, and Robert Menzies later observed that

Robert Menzies Australian politician, 12th Prime Minister of Australia

Sir Robert Gordon Menzies,, was an Australian politician who twice served as Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of the Liberal Party of Australia, defining its policies and its broad outreach. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total.

as the average voter ... does not care how frequently a Senator rotates, the amendment was carried. [3]

Although the amendment has not hindered the holding of simultaneous elections, it has had one unintended consequence. [4] Because two-thirds of Commonwealth elections have been held in the months between September and December, there have been numerous instances of incoming Senators being required to wait many months before taking their seats. Those elected on 3 October 1998, for instance, were required to wait 270 days before doing so, and those elected on 21 August 2010 were required to wait 314 days before doing so.

Referendum results

Question:Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) 1906?

Result [5] [6]
StateOn rollsBallots issuedForAgainstInformal
Votes%Votes%
New South Wales 737,599381,019286,88883.8555,26116.1537,929
Victoria 672,054380,953282,73983.1057,48716.9038,936
Queensland 271,109124,35281,29576.8424,50223.1615,325
South Australia 193,11870,47954,29786.998,12113.017,892
Western Australia 145,47352,71234,73678.939,27421.076,312
Tasmania 90,20948,79234,05681.327,82518.685,761
Total for Commonwealth2,109,5621,058,277744,01182.65162,47017.35112,155
ResultsObtained majority in all 6 States and an overall majority of 581,541 votes.

Changes to the text of the constitution

Section 13 - (removed text stricken through; substituted text in bold): [7]

As soon as may be after the Senate first meets and after each first meeting of the Senate following a dissolution thereof, the Senate shall divide the senators chosen for each State into two classes, as nearly equal in number as practicable and the places of the senators of the first class shall become vacant at the expiration of the third yearthree years, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of the sixth yearsix years, from the beginning of their term of service and afterwards the places of senators shall be vacant at the expiration of six years from the beginning of their term of service.
The election to fill vacant places shall be made in the year at the expiration of whichwithin one year before the places are to become vacant.
For the purpose of this section the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of JanuaryJuly following the day of his election, except in the cases of the first election and of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of JanuaryJuly preceding the day of his election.

See also

Referendums in Australia

Referendums in Australia are polls held in Australia to approve parliament-proposed changes to the Constitution of Australia or to the constitutions of states and territories. Polls conducted on non-constitutional issues are usually referred to as plebiscites.

Politics of Australia

The politics of Australia take place within the framework of a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Australians elect parliamentarians to the federal Parliament of Australia, a bicameral body which incorporates elements of the fused executive inherited from the Westminster system, and a strong federalist senate, adopted from the United States Congress. Australia largely operates as a two-party system in which voting is compulsory. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Australia as a "full democracy" in 2018.

The history of Australia is the history of the area and people of the Commonwealth of Australia with its preceding Indigenous and colonial societies. Aboriginal Australians arrived on the Australian mainland by sea from Maritime Southeast Asia between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. The artistic, musical and spiritual traditions they established are among the longest surviving such traditions in human history.

Related Research Articles

A constitutional amendment is a modification of the constitution of a polity, organization or other type of entity. Amendments are often interwoven into the relevant sections of an existing constitution, directly altering the text. Conversely, they can be appended to the constitution as supplemental additions (codicils), thus changing the frame of government without altering the existing text of the document.

Parliament of Australia legislative branch of the Commonwealth of Australia

The Parliament of Australia is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the Crown, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The combination of two elected chambers, in which the members of the Senate represent the states and territories while the members of the House represent electoral divisions according to population, is modelled on the United States Congress. Through both chambers, however, there is a fused executive, drawn from the Westminster system.

Double dissolution procedure of dissolving both houses of the Australian Parliament

A double dissolution is a procedure permitted under the Australian Constitution to resolve deadlocks in the bicameral Parliament of Australia between the House of Representatives and the Senate. A double dissolution is the only circumstance in which the entire Senate can be dissolved.

The 1967 Australian Referendum was held on 27 May 1967. It contained two referendum questions. There were two referendums.

The 1919 Australian Referendum was held on 13 December 1919. It contained two referendum questions.

The 1946 Australian Referendum was held on 28 September 1946. It contained three referendum questions.

The 1988 Australian Referendum was held on 3 September 1988. It contained four referendum questions, none of which passed. The failure was generally attributed to the open ended and nondescriptive wording of the proposed amendments.

The referendum of 13 April 1910 approved an amendment to the Australian constitution. The referendum was for practical purposes a vote on the Constitution Alteration Bill 1909, which after being approved in the referendum received the Royal Assent on 6 August.

The Constitution Alteration Bill 1910, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1911 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to extend the Commonwealth power in respect of trade and commerce, the control of corporations, labour and employment and combinations and monopolies. All of the proposed changes were contained within the one question.

The Constitution Alteration (Monopolies) Bill 1910, was an Australian referendum held in the 1911 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth power to nationalise any corporation deemed by both houses of parliament to be a monopoly.

The Constitution Alteration Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to extend Commonwealth legislative power in respect to trade and commerce.

The Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to extend the Commonwealth legislative power in respect to corporations.

The Constitution Alteration Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth legislative power in respect to industrial matters.

The Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth legislative power in respect to trusts.

The Constitution Alteration Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth legislative power in respect to monopolies.

The Constitution Alteration Bill 1912, was an unsuccessful Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth legislative power over industrial relations in the State railway services. The question was put to a referendum in the 1913 Australian referendum.

The referendum of 21 May 1977 approved an amendment to the Australian constitution concerning the filling of casual vacancies in the Senate. The referendum for practical purposes was a vote on the Constitution Alteration 1977 which after being endorsed in the referendum, became law on 29 July of the same year.

Section 13 of the Constitution of Australia provides for three aspects of the terms of members of the Australian Senate: the timing of elections, the commencement date of their terms and for the Senate to allocate long (six-year) and short (three-year) terms following a double dissolution of the Parliament of Australia. While members of the House of Representatives and territory senators have a maximum three-year term, state senators have a fixed six-year term, subject only to the parliament being dissolved by a double dissolution.

Next Australian federal election Election for the 47th Parliament of Australia

The next Australian federal election will be held in or before 2022 to elect members of the 47th Parliament of Australia. All 151 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 of the 76 seats in the Senate will be up for election. The incumbent Coalition Government, led by Scott Morrison will be seeking a fourth three-year term against the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese.

References

  1. "Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Act 1906" . Retrieved 22 April 2019 via legislation.gov.au.
  2. Odgers, J.R. (1991) Australian Senate Practice (6th Ed.), Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration, Canberra. p. 22
  3. Menzies, R (1967). Central Power in the Australian Commonwealth. An examination of the growth of Commonwealth power in the Australian Federation. London: Casswell. p. 14. OCLC   953109626..
  4. Select sources on constitutional change in Australia 1901-1997. Part 2 - History of Australian Referendums (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. 24 March 1997. ISBN   0644484101.
  5. "Result of the Referendum". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (11). 16 February 1907. p. 502 via www.legislation.gov.au..
  6. Handbook of the 44th Parliament (2014) "Part 5 - Referendums and Plebiscites - Referendum results". Parliamentary Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017..
  7. "Notification of the receipt of a Writ for a Referendum". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (58). 24 October 1906. pp. 1277–8 via www.legislation.gov.au..

Further reading

 

Preceded by
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900)
Australian referendum
1906
Succeeded by
State Debts Amendment (1910)