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Australian Current Affairs

Australia to have referendum to recognise Aboriginals


A woman carries the national flag in front of an Aboriginal flag

A woman carries the national flag in front of an Aboriginal flag

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday used the 50th anniversary of the indigenous land rights movement to pledge a referendum on recognising the country’s Aborigines in the constitution if Labor is re-elected.

His predecessor Julia Gillard shelved a plan to hold a vote this parliamentary term, citing low public support, but Rudd made clear that recognition of Aboriginal people as the country’s first inhabitants was a priority.

“I therefore, as prime minister, want to see this matter brought to the people of Australia by referendum within two years of the election of the next parliament,” he said, with national polls scheduled for later this year.

Rudd said he wanted to work with the conservative Tony Abbott-led opposition to draft an appropriate question.

“I want us to agree on the question to be put to the Australian people,” he told reporters.

“No more delays, no more excuses, no more buck-passing. It’s time the nation got on with this business. That is my commitment to you.”

Any change to Australia‘s constitution must be approved by a national referendum in which all citizens vote, and such ballots typically have low levels of success.

Rudd was speaking ahead of an event in the remote Aboriginal community of Yirrkala in the country’s north, where the indigenous land rights movement began 50 years ago with the signing of two bark petitions protesting against a government plan to confiscate a massive block of land to mine for bauxite.

The petitions asserted that the Yolngu people owned the land, and became the first traditional native title documents recognised by the Australian parliament.

While they failed to win their case in the courts, the petitions set in motion the push for the eventual recognition of Aboriginals as full citizens in 1967, and the statutory acknowledgement of land rights in 1976.

“These bark petitions present a bridge between two ancient and noble traditions,” said Rudd.

“Eight hundred years ago we had (the) Magna Carta; 800 years later, the Yirrkala bark petitions.

“These bark petitions are Magna Carta for the indigenous peoples of this land. Both (are) an assertion of rights against the crown and both therefore profound symbols of justice for all peoples everywhere.”

The 1215 Magna Carta was one of the founding documents of the British legal system, setting out a charter of liberties for the King’s subjects and requiring that he and all future sovereigns abide by a rule of law.

Aborigines are the most disadvantaged Australians, with indigenous children twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as other children and Aboriginal men estimated to die 11.5 years earlier than other males.

They are believed to have numbered around one million at the time of British settlement in 1788, but there are now just 470,000 out of a total population of 23 million in Australia.

Australian lawmakers formally recognised indigenous peoples as the country’s first inhabitants earlier this year.

The move came five years after Rudd, then serving his first term as prime minister, made an historic apology to Aborigines for wrongs committed since the arrival of British settlers, including the forced removals of children from their parents.

Source: Fox News – Australian PM vows referendum to recognise Aboriginals
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Australia to have referendum to recognise Aboriginals

  1. Has Rudd learnt nothing from the trouble caused by the Gillard staffer telling lies on Australia Day to stir up trouble against Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott gave his Bi Partisan support to this bill and has expressed his want for it since Gillard first proposed it and argued against its withdrawal by Gillard.

    No wonder Rudd’s own people don’t like him if he treats them with the same contempt with which he treats the Australian people.

    Editor’s note: Internet commentators are paid by the Chinese government to distort or deflect internet conversation in support of China and against the west. See our article China’s government hires people to distort web conversations

    Posted by Len Philp | July 11, 2013, 10:08
  2. To Kevin Rudd in the words of Bob Brown.

    “Australians are smarter than this and they do not like to be patronised.”

    Editor’s note: Internet commentators are paid by the Chinese government to distort or deflect internet conversation in support of China and against the west. See our article China’s government hires people to distort web conversations

    Posted by Len Philp | July 11, 2013, 11:43
  3. Well, gee. I thought Kev’s Sorry speech was the answer to all the woes between black and white Australia…
    Sarc off.
    So here we go with another piece of political theatre. I’m sorry that Tony Abbott’s involved – and I say that with all due respect to the man for the work he does in the remote communities. But I don’t believe that a paragraph or two in the constitution will make any more difference than the apology did.
    Rudd of course is using the issue to grandstand. Here cometh I, The Great Unifier.
    Given what he did for the pink batts industry and just about every other issue that’s caught his fancy, Aborigines should be nervous that they’re in his sights again.

    Posted by Gregoryno6 | July 15, 2013, 19:37
  4. Kev’s Sorry speech yes, but we must look after the BOOTS LIKERS too….The BIRROC-RATS must be kept on the payroll and look busy like, or they do theirs bits 😀
    Who else, but the TAX PAYERS will fit the bill for it, after all, they told us , we will go on with the plan for the surplus .

    Thank you LABOUR again for another FLIPPING COIN STUNT 😉

    Posted by Old Fart | July 16, 2013, 00:52

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  1. Pingback: Australian Aboriginals blast indigenous job scheme as “token gesture” | Craig Hill - July 16, 2013

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