Can any state or territory secede from Australia?
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).
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This image shows the front page of the original public record copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. There is a a red ribbon tied in a bow on the left hand side of the document. The paper looks faded from age.
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The Australian Constitution does not contemplate any state or territory leaving Australia. The only legal path to secession would be by a national referendum. A majority of voters in the majority of states would have to agree to dissolve the union of states and territories, just as they agreed to create it in the Federation referendums.
Sections 121-124 of the Constitution allow for an increase in the number of states and territories. There is no mention of how an existing state or territory could secede – leave or exit – from Australia. Changes to the Constitution would need to be agreed by the Australian people to make this happen. The Preamble to the Constitution states that the Australian federation is 'indissoluble' – not able to be broken.
In 1933 Western Australia held a state referendum to secede from Australia. Western Australians voted yes and a petition of secession was sent to the British Parliament. The British Parliament decided it did not have the power to grant secession. As a result, Western Australia remained part of Australia.