Voter behaviour and constitutional change in Australia since 1967

Keir, Warren Neill (2009) Voter behaviour and constitutional change in Australia since 1967. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Australian Constitutional referendums have been part of the Australian political system since federation. Up to the year 1999 (the time of the last referendum in Australia), constitutional change in Australia does not have a good history of acceptance. Since 1901, there have been 44 proposed constitutional changes with eight gaining the required acceptance according to section 128 of the Australian Constitution. In the modern era since 1967, there have been 20 proposals over seven referendum votes for a total of four changes. Over this same period, there have been 13 federal general elections which have realised change in government just five times. This research examines the electoral behaviour of Australian voters from 1967 to 1999 for each referendum. Party identification has long been a key indicator in general election voting. This research considers whether the dominant theory of voter behaviour in general elections (the Michigan Model) provides a plausible explanation for voting in Australian referendums. In order to explain electoral behaviour in each referendum, this research has utilised available data from the Australian Electoral Commission, the 1996 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data, and the 1999 Australian Constitutional Referendum Study. This data has provided the necessary variables required to measure the impact of the Michigan Model of voter behaviour. Measurements have been conducted using bivariate and multivariate analyses. Each referendum provides an overview of the events at the time of the referendum as well as the =yes‘ and =no‘ cases at the time each referendum was initiated. Results from this research provide support for the Michigan Model of voter behaviour in Australian referendum voting. This research concludes that party identification, as a key variable of the Michigan Model, shows that voters continue to take their cues for voting from the political party they identify with in Australian referendums. However, the outcome of Australian referendums clearly shows that partisanship is only one of a number of contributory factors in constitutional referendums.

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ID Code: 31139
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bean, Clive & Kendall, Gavin
Additional Information: QUT Humanities Program 2009
Keywords: aggregate survey, attitudes to issues, constitution, democracy, ecological inference, elections, electorate, electoral and political behaviour, funnel of causality, federalism, Michigan Model, orientation to candidates, partisanship, party identification, referendums, representative democracy, voters, voter behaviour
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Mar 2010 04:31
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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