Have your say in making changes to constitution

The Australian Constitution

The Australian Constitution is the fundamental law of Australia and one of the most significant documents in Australia’s history. The Constitution sets out the basic rules for the government of Australia, including how the state and federal governments share their powers. It provides the underlying framework, in terms of national government, for the ”˜way things are done’ in Australia on a day to day basis.

Making changes to the Constitution

The Constitution belongs to all Australians and can only be changed with the approval of the Australian people. As it is such an important document, there are very specific processes for changing it.

Firstly, the Parliament of Australia must approve the proposed change. This proposed change is then put to the Australian people in a referendum. In a referendum, all Australians on the electoral roll vote ”˜yes’ or ”˜no’ to the change.

It is important that everyone in Australia helps to make the decision about whether the proposal is approved and voting is compulsory.

Referendum on the financial recognition of local government

The proposed amendment of the Constitution would allow the Commonwealth Parliament to grant financial assistance to any local government body formed by the laws of a State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament think fit.

The amendment would not alter the current federal structure established by the Constitution.

Local government would continue to be the responsibility of state and territory governments. State and territory governments would continue to determine how local government bodies raise rates and make laws.

Double majority

The proposed change will only be approved if a ”˜double majority’ is achieved. This means that any change must be approved by both:

  • A majority of people across the whole nation (including people in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory); and
  • A majority of people in at least four of Australia’s six States.

If one or both of these majorities are not achieved, the Constitution will not be changed.

What now?

It important that every Australian who is enrolled to vote is informed about the reasons for and against the proposed changed, to help make your decision. Further information about the upcoming referendum and the proposed change can be found at www.referendum2013.gov.au

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