08 November 2010

A Referendum To Recognise Indigenous Australians...

In a lot of ways it is pretty sad that Australia is about to embark on a process that might culminate in the long overdue recognition of our first peoples in the Constitution. Yet, perhaps it is a case of better late than never. Nevertheless, referendums are notoriously difficult to get done. In fact, since federation, Australia has only managed to pass eight out of forty-four.

The referendum reality is that to be successful there is a need for a majority of votes throughout the country and a majority of states to mark the YES box.

There is no doubt that our indigenous brothers and sisters hold a very unique place in our collective history as a nation. The Prime Minister does not really need to tell us that. In any event, it would seem that the governmental bureaucratic answer to formulating a referendum question needs an expert panel. This is a sure-fire way to either kill an idea altogether or produce a question that does not reach the outcome that started the process in the first place.


Hopefully, Ms. Gillard has her finger on the pulse and is right when she claims that there is bipartisan support for the move to get a referendum passed on recognising indigenous Australians.

It is expected that the 'expert' panel will do the consultation thing throughout 2011 and report back to parliament by the end of 2011. It will be interesting to see whether the government goes to a vote on the referendum as a stand-alone exercise or wait till the next federal election and provide an additional piece of paper for people to fill in when they are in the ballot box. On a personal note, a separate ballot would work for me as this would translate to an extra day's worth of income.

I am hopeful that if as a nation we can vote to give our indigenous brothers and sisters the right to vote as we did back in 1967, then we can surely get ourselves sufficiently organised to make it possible to recognise that the first peoples of our great nation were not the convicts and their masters that wended their way here in 1788.

5 comments:

historonudger said...

Whats the ref to 1850? Could be interesting.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Historonudger...

With respect to the cartoon?

1850 was also the year of the Australian Colonies Government Act (which came into effect on 1 July 1851).

But feel free to enlighten me if there is something interesting that you have in mind.

Anonymous said...

From the cartoon I would assume that in that particular year there was a wave of undesired/undesirable migration. I am not aware of any, yet the cartoon seems to imply it was a special year in some way.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Perhaps a too literal interpretation of the cartoon. Although, people, if they were coming to Australia in 1850 would have been doing so in boats, right?

Maybe, the intent is to show that Australia, as it has become known, was subject to waves of immigration throughout its history.

Maybe, it is also commentary that by 1850 there was a colony mentality developing that saw those already residing in Australia not wanting "boat people" upsetting the apple cart.

I really thought you were going to enlighten me with a historical factoid of some significance.

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