1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002
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Australia is a constitutional democracy based on a federal division of powers. The constitutional basis of government consists of:
The national constitution is found in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK), a British Act that became law in July 1900 and came into force on 1 January 1901.
Amendment of the written Commonwealth Constitution is by Act of Parliament followed by public referendum. Any proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of Parliament (except in circumstances specified in Section 128 of the Constitution which permits a referendum to proceed if passed by only one chamber). It must also be submitted to a referendum of the electors in each State and Territory. An amendment must be approved by a majority of the voters in a majority of the States and by a majority of all voters.
Since 1901, 44 proposals have been submitted to referenda. The consent of the electors has been given in regard to eight matters:
On 6 November 1999 a vote to establish Australia as a republic was put to a national referendum. The proposal was defeated, with 54.9% of electors voting against it.
Each State and Territory has its own Constitution found in legislation. Where a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter law prevails and the former law is, to the extent of the inconsistency, invalid (for State and Territory government, see later sections).