Australian referendum, 1944
The 1944 Australian Referendum was held on 19 August 1944. It contained one referendum question.
- (16) Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights (not carried)
Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944 was known as the "14 powers", or the "14 points referendum". It sought to give the federal government power over a period of five years to legislate on a wide variety of matters.
The 14 Powers
The powers the government sought to gain included:
- The rehabilitation of former servicemen
- National health
- Family allowances
- Employment and Unemployment
- The ability to legislate for Indigenous Australians
- Corporations, or combines
- Foreign Investment
- Trust laws
- Air transport,
- Uniformity of Railway gauges
- Marketing of commodities
- Manufacturing (production) and Sales of Goods
- National Infrastructure (subject to state approval)
Many of these powers also included limitations as safeguards against the abuse of legislative power.
Restrictions on Government power
Freedom of speech and Freedom of Expression were restrictions on state and government power which the commonwealth sought to legislate on.
All of these points (the proposed heads of power and restrictions on power) where put to referendum in the form of a single question. It is notable that the points referring to corporations, trusts, combines, and monopolies had been previously put to referendum, and had not been carried.
For and Against
The Prime Minister John Curtin gave his broadcast to the nation on 25 July 1944, as follows. The Prime Minister said to abandon wartime controls on the declaration of peace would cause disorganization to the social system and destroy the capacity of the system to meet the need of the first few disturbed years after the war.
The Country Party leader, Arthur Fadden, gave his broadcast against the motion, as follows.
Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944'?
|New South Wales||1,758,166||1,694,119||759,211||%45.44||911,680||%54.56||23,228|
|Total for Commonwealth||4,483,949||4,325,451||1,963,400||%45.99||2,305,418||%54.01||56,633|
|Obtained majority in two States and an overall minority of 342,018 votes.|
* Armed forces totals are also included in their respective states.