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A Referendum on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition – What are the Chances?

21 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2012 Last revised: 21 Oct 2014

Helen Irving

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: April 15, 2012

Abstract

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, K30

Suggested Citation

Irving, Helen, A Referendum on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition – What are the Chances? (April 15, 2012). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2040550

Helen Irving (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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