A public referendum to include recognition for Australia’s Indigenous population within our nation’s Constitution will move one step closer towards becoming a reality, with Indigenous leaders set to meet leading politicians in the coming months to outlay a proposed framework.
Both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have pledged to approach the issue with bi-partisan support, and have set a date for July 6th when leading Indigenous community representatives will converge on Canberra to hold talks into how best to achieve a positive outcome.
The push would see the nation’s Indigenous population – and their history with the land – included in the Australian Constitution
, pending the passing of a public referendum. Prime Minister Abbott has suggested that any potential public referendum could take place on the 50th anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum
– in which the public voted to remove certain discriminatory exceptions to sections of the Constitution, compelling and allowing the Commonwealth Government
to create and implement policies for the betterment of the Indigenous population.
A new referendum would amend the unintended side-effect of the ’67 vote – that being it removed all mention of the Aboriginal people from the document entirely.
A Parliamentary Committee is due to hand down a draft proposal for the referendum by the end of June, which will form the spine of formal discussions between Parliament and 40 key Indigenous community leaders – including Warren Mundine, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Mick Gooda, Pat Dodson, and Tanya Hosch.
In a statement issued last night, Prime Minister Abbott said that “The meeting will help to inform the process for deciding on a referendum proposal that will have the best chance of success,” and that “recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution will complete our constitution, rather than simply change it.“
“This should be a unifying moment for our nation and this meeting will be an important part of this journey.”
A 2017 referendum would represent the longest gap between public referendums in the history of Australian Federation. The last public referendum to be held was in 1999, when the public voted down becoming a Republic. To pass, a Referendum requires both an overall majority of national votes, and a majority of states.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.