A survey of voter attitudes to constitutional reform

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Abstract

It is usually thought that, at best, the Australian public has little interest inconstitutional reform or, at worst, is profoundly suspicious of it. A keyreason for voter reluctance to countenance reform is the poor state of civicseducation in Australia, which has the consequence that voters are,understandably, fearful of changing what they do not understand. Previousopinion polls that have been conducted on constitutional reform have beenof limited value in that they have focused on single issues and have notprovided respondents with sufficient background information to enable themproperly to evaluate what they are being asked. This article analyses theresults of a representative survey of Australian voters in which respondentswere given detailed background information explaining variousconstitutional reforms. The survey also differs from others in that it soughtrespondents' views on a wide range of reforms - relating to knowledge ofthe Constitution and experience of civics education, the electoral system, aBill of Rights, the independence of the Speaker of the House ofRepresentatives, ministerial accountability and an Australian republic. Its results indicate that, when fully informed, more voters are likely to supportconstitutional reform than has previously been thought. The article alsodiscusses how best such reforms for which there is widespread support canbe achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-142
Number of pages34
JournalCanberra Law Review
Volume12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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