School: Australia and 1967 Referendum Essay

Submitted By elliecowley
Words: 507
Pages: 3

1967 Referendum:

* The Australian Constitution in 1901 made only two references to Aboriginal people and both of these references were aimed at excluding them from participation in the life of the new nation. * Section 127 of the Constitution said that ‘in reckoning the number of the people in the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted’. Aboriginal people were not to be counted in the census.

* Section 51 of the Constitution gave the federal government the power to pass laws about ‘the people of any race other than the aboriginal race in any State’. This meant that responsibility for the welfare of Aboriginal Australians, except for Aboriginals living in Australian territories, was a state matter.

* Aboriginal Australians were subjected to different laws depending on where they lived. * Different state laws and regulations saw Aboriginal people with rights in one state that were denied in others. * The demand grew for Aboriginal people to be counted in the Australian census and for responsibility for Aboriginal affairs to become a federal government responsibility. * To include Aboriginal Australians in the census and to give the Commonwealth government power to make laws of behalf of Aboriginal people required a change to the Constitution. To change the Constitution required a referendum. * In 1967 the Holt government agreed to hold this referendum. * All political parties at the time agreed to the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the census and giving the Commonwealth the power to implement policy and pass laws regarding Aboriginal issues. * Through advertising and the media, and particularly in the booklets sent to homes outlining the issue and arguments. * the government and the opposition urged a ‘Yes’ response in the referendum. As a result, almost 91 per cent of Australians voted to allow the Constitution to be changed. * Before 1967 the states had exclusive powers to make laws for Aboriginal people within their boundaries. * After 1967 both the states and the Commonwealth had that power. If laws of the Commonwealth and the states were in