Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide a method of altering the Constitution on the initiative of the electors, to change the terms of service of senators and the duration of the House of Representatives and to change the provisions relating to the qualifications of members of Parliament
For authoritative information on the progress of bills and on amendments proposed to them, please see the House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings, and the Journals of the Senate as available on the Parliament House website.
Introduced Senate 04 Apr 2000

Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000 [2002]
First Reading

1998-1999-2000

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

THE SENATE

Presented and read a first time

Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000

No. , 2000

(Senator Murray)

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide a method of altering the Constitution on the initiative of the electors, to change the terms of service of senators and the duration of the House of Representatives and to change the provisions relating to the qualifications of members of Parliament

Contents

1       Short title 1

2       Schedules 2

Schedule 1-- Amendments of the Constitution relating to alterations of the Constitution by electors' initiative       3

Schedule 2--Amendment of the Constitution relating to the duration of the House of Representatives, the terms of service of senators, the holding of elections for the Senate and House of Representatives and the office of Prime Minister       5

Schedule 3--Amendment of the Constitution relating to qualification and disqualification of members of Parliament       11

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide a method of altering the Constitution on the initiative of the electors, to change the terms of service of senators and the duration of the House of Representatives and to change the provisions relating to the qualifications of members of Parliament

The Parliament of Australia, with the approval of the electors, as required by the Constitution, enacts:

1 Short title
        This Act may be cited as the Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000.

2 Schedules
        The Constitution is altered as set out in the Schedules.

Schedule 1-- Amendments of the Constitution relating to alterations of the Constitution by electors' initiative

1 Section 128

Omit "except in the following manner:", substitute "except as provided by this Chapter:".

2 After section 128

Insert, in Chapter VIII:

129 Alteration of Constitution on electors' initiative
        A person who is, or a group of persons each of whom is, qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives for a State or Territory may be registered by the Australian Electoral Commission as the proponent, or the proponents, of a proposal to amend the Constitution.

        The proponent or proponents so registered may present to the Australian Electoral Commission a petition, addressed to the Governor-General to cause to be put to the people by way of referendum the proposed law to amend the Constitution endorsed on, or attached to, the petition.

        A proposed law to alter the Constitution shall contain an alteration, or alterations, necessary to achieve a single purpose only.

        The Australian Electoral Commission shall cause to be printed copies of the petition and forms for signature by electors who wish to sign the petition and shall furnish the copies and forms to the proponent, or proponents, concerned.

        During the period of 6 months commencing on a date determined by the Australian Electoral Commission, being a date not less than 7

Back to Top

days after the copies and forms are so forwarded, the petition may be signed by any elector in a State or Territory who was qualified to vote for the election of a member of the House of Representatives at the general election that last preceded the date so fixed.

        Where, at the expiration of that period of 6 months, the petition has been duly signed by electors to a number not less than 5 per centum of the number of electors who voted at that general election, the proponent or proponents may present the petition and signatures to the Australian Electoral Commission.

        If the Australian Electoral Commission is, after random sampling of the signatures to the petition, satisfied that it was signed as so required during that period, it shall present the petition to the Governor-General.

        The Governor-General shall, subject to this section, at the next general election of the House of Representatives, submit the proposed law endorsed on or attached to the petition to the electors in each State and Territory qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives.

        Paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6 of section 128 apply to the proposed law as if the proposed law had been agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament.

        The Australian Electoral Commission may arrange for argument in favour of, or against, the proposed law, prepared by a person, or body of persons, to be furnished, at the expense of that person or body, to electors.

        At any time during the period of 6 months previously referred to, the Attorney-General or any other person qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives may make application to the Federal Court of Australia for a declaration that the proposed law is not in the appropriate form or does not seek to change the Constitution in a manner that is practicable or legally effective and, if the Court makes the declaration, the petition shall be treated as having no force or effect.

        The Parliament may make laws with respect to matters incidental to the alteration of the Constitution as provided in this section.

        In this section, a reference to the Australian Electoral Commission includes a reference to any person or body that, for the time being, has responsibility for the administration of electoral laws in substitution for that Commission.

Schedule 2--Amendment of the Constitution relating to the duration of the House of Representatives, the terms of service of senators, the holding of elections for the Senate and House of Representatives and the office of Prime Minister

1 First paragraph of section 5

Omit ", and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives".

2 After section 5

Insert:

5A Dissolution of House of Representatives
       (1) If the House of Representatives, in pursuance of a motion of which not less than twenty-four hours' notice has been given in accordance with the rules and orders of the House made in pursuance of section 50 of this Constitution, passes a resolution (in this section referred to as a "resolution of no confidence") expressing a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister and the other Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, the Governor-General shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3), by Proclamation or otherwise, dissolve the House on the eighth day after the day on which the resolution of no confidence is passed unless the House has sooner expired.

       (2) The Governor-General shall not dissolve the House of Representatives in pursuance of subsection (1) if, after the passing of the resolution of no confidence and before the eighth day after the day on which that resolution is passed, the House passes a further resolution declaring that, if a person named in the resolution were to be appointed by the Governor-General as Prime Minister, that person and the other Ministers of State for the Commonwealth who might be appointed on the advice of that person would have the confidence of the House, and that person agrees to be appointed as Prime Minister.

       (3) The Governor-General shall not dissolve the House of Representatives in pursuance of subsection (1) if:

       (a) after the passing of the resolution of no confidence and before the passing of such a further resolution as is mentioned in subsection (2), the Prime Minister resigns and a person is appointed as Prime Minister by the Governor-General; and

       (b) after the appointment of the Prime Minister and before the eighth day after the day on which the resolution of no confidence is passed the House passes a further resolution declaring that the Prime Minister and the Ministers of State for the Commonwealth appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister have the confidence of the House.


Back to Top

       (4) The Governor-General is not empowered to dissolve the House of Representatives except in accordance with this section or section 57 of this Constitution.

Calling together of House of Representatives

       (5) Where a meeting of the House of Representatives is not fixed to take place within 7 days after the day on which a resolution of no confidence is passed, the House shall be called together to meet within 7 days after that day.

3 First and second paragraphs of section 7

Repeal the paragraphs, substitute:

        The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting as one electorate.

4 Fourth paragraph of section 7

Omit "senators shall be chosen for a term of six years, and the".

5 At the end of the first sentence in section 9

Add "and shall provide for proportional representation".

6 Second paragraph of section 9

Omit "The Parliament", substitute "Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament".

7 Sections 12 and 13

Repeal the sections, substitute:

12 Issue of writs
        Subject to sections 13, 15 and 57 of this Constitution, the Governor of a State shall cause writs to be issued for elections of senators for the State not earlier than 30 days before the day on which the places to be filled are expected to become vacant or, if the places to be filled have become vacant, not later than 10 days after the day on which the places to be filled become vacant.

13 Terms of service of senators
       (1) Subject to this Constitution, the term of service of a senator for a State who has been chosen otherwise than at the election next following a dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives begins on the day of his or her election or the day on which the place that he or she was chosen to hold becomes vacant, whichever is the later, and expires:

       (a) at the expiration of the last Thursday in the October fourth occurring after the day on which that term of service began; or

       (b) if there is an earlier dissolution of the Senate, upon that dissolution.

       (2) The term of service of a senator for a State who has been chosen at the election next following a dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives begins on the day of his or her election and expires:

       (a) at the time at which the House of Representatives would have expired if it had not been dissolved; or

       (b) if there is an earlier dissolution of the Senate, upon that dissolution.

       (3) Where a House of Representatives expires, an election of senators shall be held on the same day as the general election of members of the next House of Representatives.

       (4) Where a House of Representatives is dissolved in pursuance of section 5A of this Constitution not more than 3 months before the day on which that House would have expired if it had not been dissolved, an election of senators to fill the places of senators whose terms expire on that day shall be held on the same day as the general election of members of the House of Representatives next following the dissolution.

       (5) The term of service of a senator for a State (other than a senator appointed by the Governor of the State) who is holding office at the commencement of Schedule 2 of the Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000 shall expire at the time at which the House of Representatives that is in existence at that commencement would, if not sooner dissolved, expire or, if there is an earlier dissolution of the Senate, upon that dissolution.

       (6) If:

       (a) a senator for a State holding office at the commencement of Schedule 2 of the Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000 was appointed by the Governor of a State in consequence of the place of a senator chosen by the people of a State having become vacant; or

       (b) the place of a senator chosen by the people of a State was vacant at that commencement and had become so vacant in circumstances in which section 15 of this Constitution applies;

the term of service of the senator whose place so became vacant shall, for the purposes of section 15 of this Constitution, be deemed to be, and to have been,

Back to Top

the period for which that senator would have held his place, in accordance with subsection (5) of this section, if his place had not become vacant.

8 Section 28

Repeal the section, substitute:

28 Duration of House of Representatives
       (1) A House of Representatives shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue from the first meeting of that House until the expiration of:

       (a) if the last preceding House expired, the last Thursday in the October fourth occurring after the day of the expiry of that last preceding House;

       (b) if the last preceding House was dissolved more than 3 months before the day on which it would have expired if it had not been dissolved, the day on which that last preceding House would have expired if it had not been dissolved; or

       (c) if the last preceding House was dissolved not more than 3 months before the day on which it would have expired if it had not been dissolved, the last Thursday in the October fourth occurring after the day on which that last preceding House would have expired if it had not been dissolved.

       (2) After the expiry of a House of Representatives, a general election of members of the House shall be held on the third Saturday in the November immediately following the October in which the expiry occurred.

       (3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply in relation to the House of Representatives that is in existence at the commencement of the Schedule 2 of the Constitution Alteration (Electors' Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualifications of Members) 2000 but that House shall continue until the expiration of the last Thursday in the October fourth occurring after the day of the first meeting of that House or, if there is an earlier dissolution of that House, until that dissolution.

9 Section 32

Repeal the section, substitute:

32 Issue of writs for general elections
        The Governor-General in Council shall cause writs to be issued for general elections of members of the House of Representatives not earlier than 30 days before the expected expiry of a House of Representatives or, if a House of Representatives has expired or been dissolved, not later than 10 days after the expiry or dissolution.

10 At the end of section 57

Add "Where the Senate and the House of Representatives are dissolved simultaneously in pursuance of this section, an election of senators shall be held on the same day as the general election of members of the House of Representatives next following the dissolution.".

11 After the second paragraph of section 64

Insert:

        The Governor-General shall appoint one of the Ministers of State to be the Prime Minister. If:

       (a) the House of Representatives, in accordance with section 5A of this Constitution, passes a resolution expressing a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister and the other Ministers of State for the Commonwealth and also passes a further resolution declaring that, if a person named in the further resolution were to be appointed by the Governor-General as Prime Minister, that person and any Ministers of State for the Commonwealth who might be appointed on the advice of that person would have the confidence of the House, and that person agrees to be appointed as Prime Minister; and

       (b) the Prime Minister has not resigned from office before the passing of that further resolution;

the Governor-General shall dismiss the Prime Minister from office.

Schedule 3--Amendment of the Constitution relating to qualification and disqualification of members of Parliament
1 At the end of section 16

Add "and the powers of the Parliament in relation to determining the qualifications of a senator are the same as the powers of the Parliament in relation to determining the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives".

2 Section 34

Repeal the section, substitute:

Back to Top

34 Qualifications of members
       (1) A person who:

       (a) is an Australian citizen; and

       (b) is of the age of eighteen years or such lower age as is prescribed by the Parliament; and

       (c) is not of unsound mind; and

       (d) is not disqualified by or is not in contravention of any laws made by the Parliament under this section;

is qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives.

       (2) Subject to this Constitution the Parliament may for the purpose of determining the qualifications of a person to be a member of the House of Representatives make laws with respect to:

       (a) the procedures for determining whether a person is of unsound mind; and

       (b) requiring a person to comply with reasonable conditions as to residence in Australia; and

       (c) disqualifying a person whilst he or she is undergoing imprisonment for an offence against a law of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; and

       (d) disqualifying a person who has been convicted under a law of the Commonwealth of treason and has not been subsequently pardoned.

3 Sections 44 and 45

Repeal the sections, substitute:

44 Termination of certain employment and vacation of certain offices
        Any person who:

       (a) holds a judicial office under the Crown in right of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (b) is employed in the public service or the parliamentary service of the Commonwealth or is a full-time officer or member of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth; or

       (c) is a public authority or is a member of a public authority; or

       (d) is a member of the Parliament of a State or of the legislature of a Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (e) is an officer of or is employed in the public service of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (f) is an officer of or is employed by a public authority which has been declared by the Parliament to be a prescribed authority for the purposes of this paragraph;

ceases to be so employed or to hold that office on the day immediately preceding the day before he or she becomes entitled to an allowance as a senator or member of the House of Representatives.

45 Disqualification of senators and members
       (1) If a senator or member of the House of Representatives becomes:

       (a) subject to any disability mentioned in section 44; or

       (b) the holder of a judicial office under the Crown in right of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (c) an officer of or employed in the public service of the Commonwealth or a full-time officer or member of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth; or

       (d) a public authority or a member of a public authority; or

       (e) a member of the Parliament of a State or of the legislature of a Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (f) an officer of or employed in the public service of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; or

       (g) an officer of or employed by a public authority which has been declared by the Parliament to be a prescribed authority for the purpose of this paragraph;

he or she shall be incapable of sitting as a senator or member of the House of Representatives and his or her seat shall thereupon become vacant.

       (2) Nothing in this section or section 44 applies to a person who holds an office which is a public authority or who is a member of or who is employed by a public authority:

       (a) to which he or she has been appointed by or with the consent or approval of the Parliament and in respect of which he or she receives no remuneration (other than the reimbursement of reasonable expenses); or

       (b) that the Parliament has declared is not a public authority to which this section or section 44 applies.

       (3) In this section and section 44:

public authority means:

       (a) any authority, body or office, other than a judicial office, constituted for public purposes by:

       (i) legislation of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory; or

       (ii) an act of the executive government of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory; or

       (b) any corporation in which the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory has a controlling interest.

       (4) Paragraphs (1)(b) and (c) do not apply to any person by reason only of that person holding office as a Queen's Minister of State for the Commonwealth or as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of State.

45A Legislative powers relating to qualification and disqualification
       (1) Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws with respect to:

       (a) the interests, direct and indirect, pecuniary or otherwise, the holding of which by a person shall render him or her incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives;

       (b) corrupt practices or improper influence by or in relation to a senator or member of the House of Representatives, including rendering a person convicted of an offence relating to corrupt practices or improper influence incapable of being chosen or sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

       (2) A law under subsection (1) may extend only to interests which might constitute a material risk of conflict between the public duty and the private interests of a person.

       (3) Subject to any law made under subsection (1), any person who has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the public service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.