Jan 20, 2012

Indigenous rights: constitutional amendments

Crikey media wrap: A referendum to remove discrimination of indigenous Australians from the constitution is likely before the next election, after an expert panel presented its final report to the Prime Minister yesterday.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

A referendum to remove discrimination of indigenous Australians from the constitution is likely before the next election, after an expert panel presented its final report to the Prime Minister yesterday.

The report by the 22-person panel on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples outlined how racist parts of the constitution should be removed and a section should be added recognising the role and importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and calls for their “advancement”.

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19 thoughts on “Indigenous rights: constitutional amendments

  1. Steve777

    I hope I’m wrong, but it’s very hard to see this getting up. The naysayers have already started, for example talk about a ‘one line Bill of Rights’.

    If the referendum is held with the next election it will be buried in the most filthy and bitter election campaign in decades. The opposition will be cynical enough to sink the proposals to advance their cause. And the dog-whistling opportunities will prove just too hard for the Coalition to resist. In this, the Coalition will be supported by their usualr media allies playing on the anxieties of the electorate (remember Mabo and concerns about claims suburban backyards?).

  2. GeeWizz

    So let me get this right… we are going to “deracisialise” the constitution(not too sure which bit mentions race but feel free to let me know), but then we are going to specifically mention Aborigines and Torres Strait islander races in the constitution.

    Gee another Gillard Government brain-fart.

    But why stop at mentioning Aborigines and TSI in the consitution as the first descendants? Why not mention the early white settlers who built this country in the first 150 Years that we now take for granted? But wait… then the Labor Party’s White Australia policy was ended. So we have to give recognition to the Greeks and Italians who helped build the snowy river dam, better put that in as well.

    But wait, what about all those people who entered after that? What about the Canadian Eskimo’s that have no doubt helped with the building of our nation after they immigrated?

    Yep…. that’ll deracialise the constitution alright by SPECIFICALLY mentioning a race.

    I’ll be voting NO to mentioning of specific races in the *AUSTRALIAN*(afterall isn’t that what the lefties keep telling us we all are?) Constitution.

    Equality means just that… everyone is equal… and that means no special treatment. The lefties need to learn this.

  3. outside left

    4 years ago,we were told by people of your ilk that we couldn’t say ‘SORRY’ because they would sue the pants off us. And? Sad to see this hatred still alive and kicking

  4. WTF

    OUTSIDE LEFT – 4 years ago we were told by your ilk that saying ‘SORRY’ will make all the difference and it will put everything right for indigenous people once and for all ever – the biggest thing since slices bread. Like what difference did it actually make, what did it deliver beyond a meaningless word? Don’t blame people who are simply fatigued by the avalanche of hollow, useless historic Labor thought bubbles. I sure am. Trying to divert attention from a comprehensively failed government is no reason to mess with the constitution!

  5. ray

    “Referendum?! Constitution?! That mob that handed the paper to the government do not represent me, my family or my community. I am an Aboriginal man of five nations and I have never ceded any degree of my national sovereignty to the British crown. My lands were invaded and then occupied by force of arms. The British have carried out an horiffic war of genocide against our peoples since 1788. I will never surrender to the enemy and I will continue to fight for justice until the day I die. Onetime !!” ~ Brisbane Activist Sam Watson

  6. outside left

    WTF, it was never meant as a magic panacea , just a considerate step in the right direction. Fatigue??

  7. SBH

    Geewiz, I’d ask that you go back to Mark Liebler’s final paragraph. the case for a yes vote could not be made more eloquently or succinctly.

    As for treating everybody equally, I ask you to rethink that position. People don’t want equal treatment, they want fair treatment. This is what we strive to do all the time in our society. As Aristotle noted several centuries ago, treating the unequal equally is injustice.

  8. Stiofan

    Cue the expenditure of large amounts of taxpayer dollars on ad campaigns featuring doe-eyed indigenous kids jumping into pristine waterholes, GetUp ads featuring Carbons Cate and Caton, handwringing opinion pieces in the Fairfax media (actually, those have already started), etc.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in WA or the NT, Uncle Joe has got his eye on that young kid and Community Services has its eyes elsewhere.

  9. Stiofan


    Leibler’s piece (or at least the quoted parts) are largely a nonsense. There is no need to amend the Constitution in order to make laws to alleviate the problems of indigenes.

  10. GeeWizz

    [“Leibler’s piece (or at least the quoted parts) are largely a nonsense. There is no need to amend the Constitution in order to make laws to alleviate the problems of indigenes.”]


    In fact large parts of the anti-discrimination act had to be ripped up to allow the Intervention. It’s a case of bueracracy and leftwing tokenism restricting on-the-ground results.

    We don’t need to mention Aborigines in the constitution as the “first decendants” or the “original owners” or any other leftwing buzz words, because it’s a do-nothing token gesture which is stating the obvious. We leave that sort of stuff to the history books.

    If the left want to help Aborigines they should leave the comfort of their inner city latte shops and go out bush and meet some… talk to them… find out what they want and need. Don’t be armchair experts, get out there and get the facts.

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