S 128- Referendums
From the Study Design
Key Knowledge:
• the way in which one successful
referendum changed the division of
law-making powers
Prior to 1967 all Indigenous issues had
been left with the states because they were
deemed to have more specialised
knowledge on issues regarding Indigenous
people.
The constitution specifically denied the
Commonwealth the power to legislate for
Indigenous people or to include them in
national censuses.
Many regarded this provision as unjust for
Indigenous people.
What the 1967 referendum was about?
The 1967 Referendum proposed:
 to include Aboriginal people
in the census.
 to allow the Federal
government to make laws for
Aboriginal people.

The proposal was carried.
90.8% of voters voted in favour
 6/6 states voted in favour
Interesting facts:
 Victoria 94.68% of voters voted in favour
 Western Australia as a percentage of the
population recorded the largest NO vote
19.05%

This referendum successfully amended the
constitution to allow the Commonwealth Parliament
to legislate in an area that was previously a residual
power.
The Commonwealth Government could now
become more involved in dealing with the needs of
indigenous people and implement major reforms.
One example of the reform they implemented was:
Passing of the Native Title Act in 1993
As a result of the success of this
referendum, the Commonwealth
Parliament’s law making powers
were expanded as they could now
legislate in areas that were
previously state’s powers.
Prior to the referendum this section of the
constitution read:
The Parliament shall… have power to make
laws…with respect to:
S51(xxvi) The people of any race, other than the
Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed
necessary to make special laws
S 127 Aborigines not to be counted in reckoning
population. In reckoning the numbers of people of the
Commonwealth, or of a state or other part of the
Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be
counted.
After the referendum sections of the Constitutions
were crossed out permanently:
S51(xxvi) The people of any race, other than the
Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed
necessary to make special laws
S 127
Aborigines not to be counted in reckoning
population. In reckoning the numbers of people of
the Commonwealth, or of a state or other part of
the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be
counted.
After the referendum 1967 referendum
the Commonwealth could now make
laws for Indigenous people.
The responsibility for Aboriginal affairs
was now a concurrent power allowing
the Commonwealth to be involved in an
area which had been the states
responsibility.
Also Indigenous people could now be
included in national censuses.
Impact of this referendum on the
division of power.
The impact of this referendum on the division
of power between the states and
Commonwealth parliaments was, that the
Commonwealth could now legislate in an
area which was previously a residual power.
This shifted law making powers from the
state to the commonwealth.
Under s 109 in areas of concurrent powers,
the commonwealth law will prevail.
What the 1967 Referendum was not about.
The 1967 Referendum
 did not give Indigenous people the right to
vote. This right was already introduced in
1962.
 did not grant them citizenship. By the time
of the referendum. They officially attained
citizenship rights in 1948.
HOMEWORK –
‘How did the 1967 referendum give greater
power to the Commonwealth Parliament?’
In your answer explain:
• what was proposed to the people
• whether it was successful
• provide statistical evidence in your answer
• explain how the power was altered for
both the state and Commonwealth
Parliaments