A Referendum on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition – What are the Chances?
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
April 15, 2012
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/21
The Report of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians was presented to the Prime Minister in January this year. It includes many recommendations for constitutional change as well as for the referendum process. The Panel is emphatic that ‘achieving a successful referendum outcome should be the primary consideration of the Government and Parliament.’ Despite this, the Report devotes surprisingly modest attention to the history of Australia’s referendums. From what we know of the record, however, the Report’s confidence that its recommendations ‘are capable of succeeding’ is questionable. This paper considers the record, and concludes that the government would be unwise to put the Panel’s recommendations - at least in their current form - to a referendum.
Keywords: Constitutional alteration, Indigenous recognition, Australian referendums
JEL Classification: K10, K30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 17, 2012
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