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19 December 1946

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Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act
Amendment to Section 51, page 10

After the Referendum on 28 September 1946, the Constitution Alteration (Social Services) Act 1946 (enacted on 19 December 1946) altered the Constitutional powers of the Parliament by adding clause xxiiiA to section 51:

51. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:–

Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States:
Taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States:
Bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth:
Borrowing money on the public credit of the Commonwealth:
Postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services:
The naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth:
Lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys:
Astronomical and meteorological observations:
Fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits:
Census and statistics:
Currency, coinage, and legal tender:
Banking, other than State banking; also State banking extending beyond the limits of the State concerned, the incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money:
Insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned:
Weights and measures:
Bills of exchange and promissory notes:
Bankruptcy and insolvency:
Copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trade marks:
Naturalization and aliens:
Foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth:
Divorce and matrimonial causes; and in relation thereto, parental rights, and the custody and guardianship of infants:
Invalid and old-age pensions:
(xxiiiA) The provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances:

The service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States:
The recognition throughout the Commonwealth of the laws, the public Acts and records, and the judicial proceedings of the States:

The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws:
Immigration and emigration:
The influx of criminals:
External affairs:
The relations of the Commonwealth with the islands of the Pacific:
The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws:
The control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth:
The acquisition, with the consent of a State, of any railways of the State on terms arranged between the Commonwealth and the State:
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State:
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State:
Matters in respect of which this Constitution makes provision until the Parliament otherwise provides:
Matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States, but so that the law shall extend only to States by whose Parliaments the matter is referred or which afterwards adopt the law:
The exercise within the Commonwealth, at the request or with the concurrence of the Parliaments of all the States directly concerned, of any power which can at the establishment of this Constitution be exercised only by the Parliament of the United Kingdom or by the Federal Council of Australasia:
Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof, or in the Government of the Commonwealth, or in the Federal Judicature, or in any department or officer of the Commonwealth.

(Section 51 was also amended in 1967)

Source: Constitution Alteration (Social Services) Act 1946 (No. 81 of 1946). (NAA: A1559/1, 81/1946)
This addition of clause xxxiiiA to Section 51, introduced by the Chifley Labor Government, gave the Commonwealth Parliament the power to make laws for the provision of a much wider range of social services � child endowment, benefits to students, unemployment benefits, medical and dental services, maternity allowances, family allowances, sickness and hospital benefits, widows' pensions � as the Constitution had only referred to pensions for invalid and aged people. This more prominent role was reflected in the establishment of the Commonwealth Department of Social Security in 1939, the Department of Immigration in 1944, and the Commonwealth Employment Service and the Commonwealth Office of Education in 1945.

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