Are Australians Dividing Further on the basis of race?

By Mark Waters

Posted in News

Andrew Bolt says that Constitutional reform is about ‘… dividing Australians by race, for once and for all, in the Constitution so that one group has extra political rights on the basis of their claimed race …’ (23rd August, 2023, Sky News).

Understanding our Australian Constitution is important for the 14th October Referendum. Australia has always been divided on the basis of race. The Australian Government has the power to make laws on the basis of race; and has done so since 1901. After the 1967 Referendum, Aboriginal peoples who had previously been exempted, as States and Territories made laws for them, were caught up by this ‘Race Power.’ It has only been used against Aboriginal people; for example, the Hindmarsh Island case where it was ruled that whilst people hoped that the race power would act for people’s interests, it could also be to their detriment.

The idea of recognition and accepting an Aboriginal advisory structure to Government can be unifying in Australia. Division only exists where people choose to make it so; seeking harmony and sharing expressions of grace and love, as embodied within the invitation provided by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, can draw us together as a country.

At the Synod meeting where delegates were discussing the Proposal to support the Yes Campaign, the question was asked ‘What about the other 96% of the population?’. At the end of the session Aunty Rev Denise Champion said ‘What about if we flip it, and look at it from the perspective of the 96% being joined by the 4% to make us whole.’ This can be a reconciling moment in our country if we choose to see that.

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