Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

What are the arguments that were put forward against the change of the social services 1946 referendum in Australia?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The 1946 Constitutional referendum in Australia defined the ability of the legislative branch to pass laws related to social services, including unemployment insurance, allowances for pregnant women and widows, medical services, pharmaceutical aid, and benefits for students. Many of these social services already existed in Australia prior to the referendum, but its passage clarified the extent to which the government could provide aid, and made the existence of the laws constitutional. One concern about the expansion of social services powers was the increase of revenue granted to the Commonwealth relative to the states; in 1942, the Commonwealth became the sole government entity responsible for collecting income tax, taking some responsibility away from the states. Some Australians were concerned about the increasing centralization of taxation, especially when the Commonwealth increased taxes to allow benefits for the sick and unemployed. Another argument against the referendum was that the increase in autonomy granted to the Commonwealth would subvert its constitutional role. Those against the referendum argued that it would grant the Commonwealth too much legislative power, in addition to providing it with an increase in tax revenue. Overall, the opponents of the 1946 referendum were primarily concerned about how it would provide both more tax income and more legislative power than the Constitution had allowed at the time, and promoted conforming to the Constitution's existing allowances rather than changing it to protect these new powers. However, the referendum passed with 54% of the vote, and the Constitution was amended.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team