Inquiry on referendum rules

By Staff Writer

The effectiveness of the rules of referendums will come under scrutiny in a new parliamentary inquiry.

Chair of the House of Representatives Committee, Mark Dreyfus QC, announced that the House Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee is to review legislation administering the conduct of referendums.

The processes fro preparing Yes and No cases for referendum questions and restrictions on government spending are set out in the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984.

Dreyfus said when the Yes and No cases for referendum questions were first introduced in 1912 pamphlets required to inform the electorate about the proposal submitted to referendum.

“In 2009, it is appropriate to ask whether there is a more effective way to engage and inform people about the Constitution and proposed constitutional change,” he said.

Dreyfus called for interested organisations and members of the public to consider how the legislation could be changed to better provide for constitutional engagement.

“Submissions to the inquiry will inform the Committee in its assessment of the effectiveness of the Act,” he added.

The deadline for submissions is October 9, 2009.

The Committee will inquire and report on the following terms of reference:

  • The effectiveness of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 in providing an appropriate framework for the conduct of referendums, with specific reference to: processes for preparing the Yes and No cases for referendum questions; provisions providing for the public dissemination of the Yes and No cases; and limitations on the purposes for which money can be spent in relation to referendum questions.
  • Any amendments to the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 the Committee believes are required to provide an appropriate framework for the conduct of referendums.
  • Any other federal provisions relevant to terms 1 and 2 above, as the Committee considers appropriate.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required