Australian referendum, 1951

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The 1951 Australian Referendum was held on 22 September 1951 and sought approval for the federal government to ban the Communist Party of Australia. It was not carried.

Background[edit]

In 1951 the Menzies government passed a law banning the Communist Party of Australia. The party challenged the law in the High Court, which ruled that it was constitutionally invalid. Following this defeat, the government sponsored this referendum in an attempt to overcome this constitutional obstacle. The referendum question was opposed, not surprisingly, by the Communist Party. It was also opposed by the Australian Labor Party and even the Young Liberals, on the grounds that it would restrict freedoms of speech and association.

Question[edit]

Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Powers to deal with Communists and Communism) 1951'?

Results[edit]

Result
State On

rolls

Ballots

issued

For Against Invalid
 %  %
New South Wales 1,944,219 1,861,147 865,838 47.17% 969,868 52.83% 25,441
Victoria 1,393,556 1,326,024 636,819 48.71% 670,513 51.29% 18,692
Queensland 709,328 675,916 373,156 55.76% 296,019 44.24% 6,741
South Australia 442,983 427,253 198,971 47.29% 221,763 52.71% 6,519
Western Australia 319,383 305,653 164,989 55.09% 134,497 44.91% 6,167
Tasmania 164,868 158,596 78,154 50.26% 77,349 49.74% 3,093
Armed Forces*   9,472 6,478   2,917   82
Total for Commonwealth 4,974,337 4,754,589 2,317,927 49.44% 2,370,009 50.56% 66,653
Obtained majority in three States and an overall minority of 52 082 votes.
Not carried

* Armed forces totals are also included in their respective states.

Source: Australian Parliament - Referendum results.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Referendum results (24) Communists and Communism at Parliament of Australia official website