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The Australian National University

Justifications for Initiating a Constitutional Amendment to Establish an Australian Republic: An Empirical Study

Glenn Patmore (2012) 40 (1)

Under section 128 of the Australian Constitution federal parliamentarians have the power to initiate constitutional amendments. This paper examines the justifications of politicians and public figures for proposing a referendum to introduce an Australian republic. From interviews conducted between 2008 and 2011, three important justifications for proposing change emerged: promoting a new national identity; success in passing a referendum and in re-election; and timeliness. An examination of these justifications raised additional questions, including: what reasons did politicians and public figures think were significant? How did their justifications form and develop? What were the reasons that inspired political action? The reasons for initiation of a referendum for a republic, and recognition of indigenous people in the Australian Constitution are also compared. The paper adds to the literature on formal constitutional change, and also offers a critique of the field.

Vol 40, Issue 1, 2012

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