Australian referendum, 1913 (Industrial Matters)

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The Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) 1912 was an Australian referendum held in the 1913 referendums which sought to alter the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth legislative power in respect to industrial matters.



Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) 1912'?

The proposal was to alter the text of section 51 of the Constitution to read as follows:[1]

51. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have Legislative power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

(xxxv.) Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State:

Labour, and employment, and unemployment, including-
(a) the terms and conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry, occupation, or calling;
(b) the rights and obligations of employers and employés;
(c) strikes and lockouts;
(d) the maintenance of industrial peace; and
(e) the settlement of industrial disputes.


The referendum was not approved by a majority of voters, and a majority of the voters was achieved in only three states.[2][3]

State On rolls Ballots issued For Against Informal Result
 %  %
New South Wales 1,036,187 717,855 318,622 46.88 361,044 53.12 36,933 No
Victoria 830,391 626,861 297,892 49.02 309,804 50.98 18,837 No
Queensland 363,082 280,525 147,171 54.36 123,554 45.64 9,579 Yes
South Australia 244,026 195,463 96,626 51.40 91,361 48.60 7,259 Yes
Western Australia 179,784 132,149 66,451 52.71 59,612 47.29 5,753 Yes
Tasmania 106,746 80,398 34,839 45.20 42,236 54.80 3,197 No
Total for Commonwealth 2,760,216 2,033,251 961,601 49.33 987,611 50.67 81,558 No
Obtained majority in three States and an overall minority of 26,010 votes.
Not carried


The 1911 referendum asked a single question that dealt with trade and commerce, corporations and industrial matters. This resolution separated each of those matters into a different question. Like its forebear, none of these resolutions were carried. On each of the many occasions a similar question was asked at a referendum the public decided not to vest power in the Commonwealth over these matters.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Notification of the receipt of a Writ for a Referendum". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (30). 25 April 1913. pp. 1097–8 – via .
  2. ^ "Result of the Referendum". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (55). 2 August 1913. p. 1792 – via .
  3. ^ a b Handbook of the 44th Parliament (2014) "Part 5 - Referendums and Plebiscites - Referendum results". Parliamentary Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. .

Further reading[edit]