Sunday, 18 August 2013

Federal Election 2013: A noble promise freely given - or is it?

On 11 August 2013 ABC News reported that; He [Tony Abbott] made a first-term commitment to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, saying the nation's "soul would not be whole" until that happened.

I’m sure that Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott meant that statement made on the federal election campaign trail.

However, like many of his utterances it only tells half the story.

What Abbott does not say is that an act of Parliament passed during Julia Gillard’s’ term as Prime Minister obliges the House of Representatives by 12 November 2014 to begin consideration of the question of whether to call a national referendum on recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution and, that this question is then be debated and put to the vote in both the House and the Senate.

As the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 had bi-partisan support when it was passed, it is highly likely that a referendum will be called no matter who wins government on 7 September this year.

Whether the Yes vote wins such a national referendum is of course up to the Australian people and hopefully acceptance will prevail that there is a need to legally embed in the Constitution a recognition of the traditional owners of the land past and present and their cultures.  

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