The legislation providing for the establishment of a Referendum Commission is the Referendum Act 1998 as amended by the Referendum Act 2001. Under the Referendum Act 1998 the Commission initially had the role of setting out the arguments for and against referendum proposals, having regard to submissions received from the public.

Since the passing of the Referendum Act 2001 the Commission no longer has a statutory function in relation to putting the arguments for and against referendum proposals. The 2001 Act also removed from the Commission the statutory function of fostering and promoting debate or discussion on referendum proposals.

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