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1946 Australian referendum (Industrial Employment)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill 1946,[1] was an unsuccessful proposal to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth power to make laws regulating employment in industry. It was put to voters for approval in a referendum held on 28 September 1946. The question was narrowly rejected, with a minority of 1.80% in the fourth state, South Australia.[2]


Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) 1946'?

The proposal was to insert into section 51 that the Parliament have power to make laws with respect to:

:(xxxiv.A.) Terms and conditions of employment in industry, but not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription;[1]


Result [2]
State Electoral roll Ballots issued For Against Informal
Vote % Vote %
New South Wales 1,858,749 1,757,150 833,822 51.72 778,280 48.28 145,048
Victoria 1,345,537 1,261,374 609,355 52.08 560,773 47.92 91,246
Queensland 660,316 612,170 243,242 43.42 316,970 56.58 51,958
South Australia 420,361 399,301 179,153 48.20 192,516 51.80 27,632
Western Australia 300,337 279,066 142,186 55.74 112,881 44.26 23,999
Tasmania 154,553 144,880 52,517 41.37 74,440 58.63 17,923
Armed forces [a]   37,021 20,445 55.23 15,239 41.16 1337
Total for Commonwealth 4,739,853 4,453,941 2,060,275 50.30 2,035,860 49.70 357,806
Results Obtained majority in three states and an overall majority of 24,415 votes. Not carried
  1. ^ Armed forces totals are also included in their respective states.


This was the sixth occasion in which the commonwealth sought power to regulate terms and conditions of employment, rather than using the conciliation and arbitration power, having been unsuccessful in 1911, 1913, 1919, 1926 and 1946.[2]

For a referendum to approve an amendment of the constitution, it must ordinarily achieve a double majority: approved by a majority of states (i.e., four of the six states) as well as a majority of those voting nationwide.[3] This was the third of five referendums (as of October 2021) to achieve an overall majority, but fail the requirement of a majority of states.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill 1946 (Cth).
  2. ^ a b c Handbook of the 44th Parliament (2014) "Part 5 - Referendums and Plebiscites - Referendum results". Parliamentary Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Constitution (Cth) s 128 Mode of altering the Constitution.
  4. ^ Handbook of the 44th Parliament (2014) "Part 5 - Referendums and Plebiscites - Constitutional referendums". Parliamentary Library of Australia.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 9 May 2022, at 00:08
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