Aussie rules

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Britain should have looked to Australia before embarking on the referendum for separation and nearly losing Scotland.

Indeed, one fails to understand why the British government did not follow along the lines of referendums in Australia when it agreed with the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

Whilst each of the Australian colonies voted in a referendum to join the Federation of Australia, once it became a union it then became necessary if any one of the states (as the colonies became) wished to separate for a nationwide referendum to be held to allow this to happen.

In 1933 the government of Western Australia held a referendum asking electors whether they were in favour of their State withdrawing from the Federal Commonwealth. The referendum won with 68 per cent of the voters agreeing to separate but it was then necessary to put an amendment to the Federal Constitution before the Australian people to vote on, in accordance with section 128 of the Australian Constitution. After trying to avoid section 128 through a failed appeal to London, the matter was dropped.

In the United Kingdom the British government allowed the carriage of a referendum to be managed by the Scottish government and its First Minister, Alex Salmond, of the Scottish National Party, which were the proponents of separation.

Furthermore, whilst the 800,000 Scots living in the UK, but not resident in Scotland, had no vote, non-British citizens from Bulgaria to Botswana who were resident in Scotland did. This is because the vote was given to citizens of all Commonwealth countries and all European Union countries who are resident in Scotland even though they were not British citizens.

I would question whether many of these people had any knowledge of the history of the UK or, indeed, any affinity to the Crown or to the kingdom.

Perhaps Britain would do well to entrench within their – uncodified – constitutional system a referendum procedure similar to that of Australia and applicable to all four countries which make up the UK.

Philip Benwell

National Chair

Australian Monarchist League

Sydney