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The Fourteen Powers Amendment was a proposed amendment to the Imperial Constitution of Cygnia. It would have granted the federal government temporary additional powers not specified in the Constitution, to ensure the Curtin Government's post-war reconstruction plan was constitutional.
The amendment was submitted by the 39th Congress of the Empire on 23 March 1944. It was presented to the Cygnian people as the Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944 on 19 August 1944, and was rejected by 10 of the 15 states, and by 54% of the national electorate.
The Fourteen Powers Amendment was the last one to have been submitted for referendum prior to the promulgation of the 1948 Constitution.
- ARTICLE ONE
- SECTION 8A — TEMPORARY PROVISIONS
- The Congress of the Empire shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Empire with respect to—
- the reinstatement and advancement of those who have been members of the Armed Forces of the Empire during any war, and the advancement of the dependants of those members who have died or been disabled as a consequence of any war;
- employment and unemployment;
- organised marketing of commodities;
- companies, but so that any such law shall be uniform through the Empire;
- trusts, combines and monopolies;
- profiteering and prices (but not including prices or rates charged by State or semi-governmental or local governing bodies for goods or services);
- the production and distribution of goods, but so that—
- no law made under this paragraph with respect to primary production shall have effect in a State until approved by the Governor in Council of that State; and
- no law made under this paragraph shall discriminate between States or parts of States;
- the control of overseas exchange and overseas investment; and the regulation of the raising of money in accordance with such plans as are approved by a majority of members of the Imperial Loan Council;
- air transport;
- uniformity of railway gauges;
- national works, but so that, before any such work is undertaken in a State, the consent of the Governor in Council of that State shall be obtained and so that any such work so undertaken shall be carried out in co-operation with the State;
- national health in co-operation with the States or any of them;
- family allowances; and
- the people of the aboriginal race.
- Neither the Empire nor a State may make any law for abridging the freedom of speech or of expression.
- The first Amendment to this Constitution shall apply to and in relation to every State in like manner as it applies to and in relation to the Empire.
- A regulation of a legislative character under the authority of any law made by the Congress in the exercise of any power conferred by Clause 1 of this Section—
- shall, subject to this section, take effect on the expiration of the fourteenth day after its contents have been notified in the manner provided by the Congress to each member of the House of Councillors and each member of the House of Representatives or on such later date as is specified in the regulation;
- shall not take effect if, within fourteen days after its contents have been so notified, either House of the Congress passes a resolution disapproving of the regulation; and
- shall take effect on the date of its making or on such later date as is specified in the regulation, if the King in Council declares on specified grounds that the making of the regulation is urgently required.
Attorney-General H. V. Evatt, Member for Barton, introduced "A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution by vesting in the Congress certain additional Powers until the Expiration of five Years after Cygnia ceases to be engaged in Hostilities in the present War" in the 39th Congress on 10 February 1944. The Cygnian House of Representatives passed it on 16 March 1944. The Cygnian House of Councillors passed it on 23 March 1944 following amendments added to enforce freedom of speech and religion at the state level as it was at the federal level; the House of Representatives passed the amended bill the same day, upon which it was submitted to referendum.
The referendum on the Fourteen Powers Amendment was held on 19 August 1944. The question presented to the people was "Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'Constitution Alteration (Post-War Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) 1944'?".
The amendment was soundly defeated, failing to achieve the constitutionally required double majority to become approved. In 10 of the 15 states, the proposed amendment was rejected, with the largest percentage of votes against coming from New Zealand, where 63.48% of all votes cast was against the amendment. In the national total, 54.01% voted against the amendment.