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Constitutional Referendums

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The Australian people have voted on 44 proposals for change in 20 constitutional referendums since 1901. Amending the Commonwealth Constitution has proved difficult. Only eight of the 44 proposals have been successful.

Examples of unsuccessful referendums:

1988 Rights and Freedoms

In September 1988, a rights and freedoms proposal was one of four put to the people of Australia. It sought to:

  • extend the right to trial by jury,

  • extend freedom of religion and

  • ensure fair terms for persons whose property is acquired by any Government. This and the other three proposals were rejected.

1999 Republican Referendum

On November 6 1999, two questions were put:

  • To alter the Constitution to replace the Queen and Governor-General with a President elected by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.

  • To alter the Constitution to insert a preamble.

Both were unsuccessful. However, the question of a Republic continues to be debated and, as the Queen observed during a recent Royal visit, the future of the monarchy in Australia was, and is, for


"the Australian people...alone to decide by democratic and constitutional means".


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.