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Marcia Langton on why we need constitutional change




Our Constitution does not recognise the First Australians. In fact it enables governments to discriminate against under the 'race power.' The referendum of 1967, while it resulted in indigenous people being counted in the census and gave the Commonwealth the power to legislate on indigenous matters, did not give us recognition or equality. Even though the Racial Discrimination Act foribids racism, governments continue to discriminate. Could constitutional amendment stop discrimination against us? Many years ago, I became interested in the Makarrarta campaign that the Aboriginal Treaty Committee and the National Aboriginal Congress pursued. The problem was then, as it is now, that indigenous Australians have no status in the nation other than as ordinary citizens, which clearly we are not: we are the inheritors of ancient Australian traditions, including polities, or tribes, or clans. These long predate the Annexation of Australia and the Australian Constitution. Various statutes define our status in very limited ways, although some give quite important rights, but always at the pleasure of the Crown of the day. The following documents are a potted history of my own interests in constitutional issues and the way that indigenous Australians have argued for a better deal from the nation state that was built on our land:




There's more to come.