1944 Australian Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights referendum

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The 1944 Australian Referendum was held on 19 August 1944. It contained one referendum question.

Contents

Question

Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944'?

Proposed Amendment

Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944 was known as the "14 powers", or the "14 points referendum". It sought to give the federal government power over a period of five years to legislate on a wide variety of matters. [1]

The 14 Powers

The powers the government sought to gain included:

Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers. The earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP.

Corporation separate legal entity that has been incorporated through a legislative or registration process established through legislation

A corporation is an organization, usually a group of people or a company, authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations enjoy limited liability for their investors, which can lead to losses being externalized from investors to the government or general public, while losses to investors are generally limited to the amount of their investment.

Trust law three-party fiduciary relationship

A trust is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the first party, the trustor or settlor, transfers ("settles") a property upon the second party for the benefit of the third party, the beneficiary.

Many of these powers also included limitations as safeguards against the abuse of legislative power.

Restrictions on Government power

Freedom of speech and Freedom of Expression were restrictions on state and government power which the commonwealth sought to legislate on.

The government also sought to apply the right to freedom of religion over state governments. [2]

Referendum

All of these points (the proposed heads of power and restrictions on power) were put to referendum in the form of a single question. It is notable that the points referring to corporations, trusts, combines, and monopolies had been previously put to referendum, and had not been carried.

The 14 proposals covered the participation of the federal government in postwar reconstruction, including control over employment, profiteering and prices, and related subjects. [3]

For and Against

The proposal was put forward and supported by the Australian Labor Party government. It was opposed by the federal opposition (United Australia Party and the Country Party).

Australian Labor Party Political party in Australia

The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. Bill Shorten has been the party's federal parliamentary leader since 13 October 2013. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.

The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Prime Ministers of Australia – Joseph Lyons (1932–1939) and Robert Menzies (1939–1941).

For

The Prime Minister John Curtin gave his broadcast to the nation on 25 July 1944. The Prime Minister said to abandon wartime controls on the declaration of peace would cause disorganization to the social system and destroy the capacity of the system to meet the need of the first few disturbed years after the war. [4]

John Curtin Australian politician, 14th Prime Minister of Australia

John Curtin was an Australian politician who served as the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1941 until his death in 1945. He led the country for the majority of World War II, including all but the last few weeks of the war in the Pacific. He was the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1935 to 1945.

Against

The Country Party leader, Arthur Fadden, gave his broadcast against the motion stating : It's proposal means that in peacetime, you will work under government compulsion, you will eat and wear what the bureaucrats ration out to you: you will live in mass-produced government dwellings: and your children will work wherever the bureaucrats tell them to work! If granted nothing can be made, produced, built or grown without permission. Everything that is grown or made, carried or carted, sold or exchanged will be under government control. A yes vote would enable the Government to implement Labour's policy of socialization. Nationalization of Industry would follow. [5]

Results

Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944'?

Result [6]
StateOn
rolls
Ballots issuedForAgainstInvalid
Votes%Votes%
New South Wales1,758,1661,694,119759,21145.44911,68054.5623,228
Victoria1,266,6621,227,571597,84849.31614,48750.6915,236
Queensland633,907599,568216,26236.52375,86263.487,444
South Australia403,133392,443196,29450.64191,31749.364,832
Western Australia278,722272,339140,39952.25128,30347.753,637
Tasmania143,359139,41153,38638.9283,76961.082,256
Armed Forces* 417,082218,452 195,148 3,482
Total for Commonwealth4,483,9494,325,4511,963,40045.992,305,41854.0156,633
Obtained majority in two States and an overall minority of 342,018 votes.
Not carried

* Armed forces totals are also included in their respective states.

See also

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References

  1. "Referendum Proposals: Meaning of the Fourteen Points". The Age . 21 June 1944. p. 2. Retrieved 4 July 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  2. Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction) Bill 1944 (Cth) (PDF)
  3. "Opening of Campaign. Official Booklet on Referendum". The Sydney Morning Herald . 19 June 1944. p. 4. Retrieved 4 July 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Prime Minister states case why referendum necessary". The Telegraph . 26 July 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 4 July 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "The Referendum: "Socialisation" if carried". The Canberra Times . 25 July 1944. p. 3. Retrieved 4 July 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  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..