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Giant referendum

By Everald Compton - posted Tuesday, 5 June 2018

I have never before in my 86 years encountered an era in which so many Australians are utterly disenchanted with, or distrusting of, politics.

This means that there exists a once in a lifetime opportunity to make huge changes in the way Australia is governed.

Voters have given up trying to find the right leader. They clearly do not think that such a person exists at this time. So, their only hope lies in changing the rules under which Parliament operates.


This can clearly be achieved if the largest referendum in the history of Australia can be held on the day of the next Federal Election which is currently likely to happen in late 2018 or early 2019.

As I see it, there are six important constitutional changes that should be presented and adopted.

Let me set them out.

(1) Indigenous Recognition. This vital matter can be delayed no longer. It should have been handled by the Founding Fathers in 1901, but it was too hot a political issue for them to handle at a time when White Australia was a deep religious belief. It is no longer that and we need to have an emphatic Preamble to the Constitution that clearly acknowledges the 65000 years of human occupation that responsibly cared for our continent before Europeans arrived.

(2) Republic. It is time to vote to remove all mention of the British Crown from our Constitution without actually using the words Republic or President. We can decide to remain the Commonwealth of Australia which has a Governor General as Head of State who is elected by a direct vote of the people and who is in no way responsible to Britain.

(3) Senators. We must vote to remove the section of the Constitution that says that the number of Senators must be 50% of the number of Members of the House of Representatives. We need only 5 Senators per State and one per Territory. This means 32 in all. We should remember that the Americans have only two per State.


(4) Powers of Senators. The Founding Fathers never ever intended that the Senate should have the power to deny money supply to a Government. This happened illegally in 1975 when the Senate denied this to Whitlam. Nor did the Founding Fathers give the Senate power to vote down a Budget. It was to be an Upper House that defended State Rights, nothing else. We should now vote to give the Senate power to refer any piece of legislation back to the House of Representatives for review on up to three occasions, but not defeat it.

(5) Corruption. The Constitution must be amended to establish a Corruption Commission which is responsible to the Governor General only, not Parliament, giving him or her the power to refer any evidence of corruption to the Courts of the nation for prosecution. This will stop political interference in covering up crime.

(6) Political Parties. Currently, the Constitution does not mention them. Approval for their establishment must be in the hands of the Governor General and the Constitution must state that no member of Parliament can be expelled from a Party because he or she decides to vote against any piece of legislation that the Party advocates.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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