Aborigines

Ethnic Blackmail to Change Australia’s ‘Racist’ Constitution: Part Two

It is well known that the federal Constitution was drafted and adopted by the narrowest section of Australian society. Our “founding fathers” were white, male, Christian, middle-aged and drawn almost exclusively from Australia’s ruling classes … This was and is a preamble tainted with racism, sexism and xenophobia. That is, in determining whether to fuse the separate colonies into a unified federation, women, Indigenous people, Chinese and Kanak labourers were all denied the right to vote and thus excluded from the collective “people”.         —Megan Davis, University of New South Wales, 2010

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At Federation in 1901, Australia prided itself on being the most democratic country in the world. This was not an exaggeration. At the time, the majority of colonies who joined the Federation based their democratic political structure on “manhood suffrage”, that is, “one man, one vote”. It meant all residents who were adult males over twenty-one years of age who were born in Australia, or even in another British colony, had the right to vote. This right, not granted by Britain at home until 1914, was gained in the New South Wales Electoral Reform Act of 1858. By the 1890s, earlier property qualifications for being on the electoral roll had been abolished in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Despite claims by legal academics today that Aborigines were excluded from the franchise, this is not true. They had the vote in the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, without any qualification. Only in Queensland and Western Australia, where state governments imposed a £100 property qualification for voting, were they largely disenfranchised.

Like many white itinerant workers in rural Australia at the time, Aborigines were enrolled to vote even if they were illiterate and had no fixed address. The local police copied their names onto the electoral roll from both their own records and the regular nineteenth-century censuses of the Aboriginal population. Thanks to Section 41 of the Constitution, the right of Aboriginal people to vote in colonial elections was retained after 1901 for the new Commonwealth. In 1902 the new Federation passed the Commonwealth Franchise Bill to extend the vote to all the women of the country, a right not won in the United States until 1920 and in Britain until 1928. From 1902 onwards, Aboriginal women in the four respective states had the same right to vote as men.

At the time, these facts were widely recognised not just in Australia but around the democratic world. Progressive authors came from overseas to visit and write about our more radical democracy. Their books included State Experiments in Australia and New Zealand (1902) by Pember Reeves, a New Zealand politician and journalist who became head of the London School of Economics. The visiting French politician and academic historian Albert Métin wrote Socialisme Sans Doctrine (1901), a book that enhanced Australia’s social democratic reputation throughout Europe. Up until the 1970s, courses in Australian history at Australian universities — certainly at the two Sydney institutions where I taught during that decade — instilled in their students an awareness of our early political adventurousness and the international interest in it.

Yet today, that knowledge has been erased from the national consciousness. Even Tony Abbott, a former Rhodes Scholar, was completely unaware of it. In 2014, in a speech supporting the case for constitutional reform, the then-Prime Minister said the main problem for indigenous people was not the hostility of the Commonwealth’s founders but their indifference:

It is not that our constitutional founders made a mistake — they simply failed to give Aboriginal people more than a passing thought. So in addressing this subject, our job is not to correct their work but to complete it.

Tony Abbott not only endorsed the need for a constitutional amendment to rectify the supposed political neglect of the Aborigines, but did not challenge the general thrust of the report by Julia Gillard’s “expert panel”, a body she established to generate a case for constitutional amendment. The panel repeated the completely erroneous proposition that the original Constitution omitted Aboriginal people from the new Australian nation by denying them the right to vote.

The passage at the start of this article by Megan Davis is the kind of politically jaundiced prose that is now standard fare in Australian academic discussion of these issues. It appeared in the University of New South Wales Law Journal, a publication whose masthead assures us it is “one of Australia’s leading peer reviewed legal journals”. The passage also provides a good indicator of the line you need to take today to make a career in the law schools of our universities and in politics beyond. The author is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of New South Wales, and a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university. Davis wrote the passage in 2010 and the following year Julia Gillard appointed her to the expert panel on con­stitutional recognition.

Davis also has a career on the international political stage as a long-serving member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a body that meets in New York and which in 2015 appointed her its permanent chair. In this position, one of her decisions has been to invite Aboriginal activists to appear before her committee to testify about the numerous breaches Australia allegedly commits against indigenous human rights. One recent witness was the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Jackie Huggins, who produced a long charge sheet of Australian government felonies. Among them were Commonwealth initiatives, including the Howard government’s “Intervention” exercise in 2007 to prevent domestic violence and child sexual abuse in remote communities, and the “Closing the Gap” program endorsed by all Prime Ministers since its introduction by Kevin Rudd. Both policies have allegedly committed human rights offences because they “explicitly remove and deny indigenous control and decision making”.

In other words, in piling up their evidence at this UN forum, Davis and Huggins are trying to give Australia a quite different international reputation from the one we had in 1901 at Federation. Thanks to their efforts we now find ourselves standing in the line-up as one of the world’s serial offenders against human rights.

In the debate over constitutional recognition, Davis and Huggins are far from alone. They are speaking within a con­sensus of the Aboriginal establishment and its white support­ers. The central argument they use to justify change today is that the existing Constitution is a racist document, the product of an “age of discrimination” in Australian history. These authors say few Australians today realise how bad their Constitution is, but once it is made clear, they think most people will support the project to amend it.

 

The right to vote of Aborigines

But they do vote in New South Wales. I have seen them voting.
                                  —Sir William Lyne, House of Representatives, April 1902

Megan Davis claims the reference in the constitutional preamble to “the people” disguises the true nature of the composition of the Australian polity. The preamble of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (July 9, 1900), begins with words that define “the people” simply by their geography:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established …

Davis claims that at Federation this notion of “the people” omitted from the Aus­tralian polity indigenous people, women, and Chinese and Kanak labourers by denying them all the right to vote. This claim reveals her complete ignorance of Australia electoral history. Gillard’s expert panel repeated the same fiction, citing an article by Davis’s colleague, George Williams, another professor in the law school of the Uni­versity of New South Wales, who claimed Aborigines could not vote for the constitutional conventions in the 1890s.

At the time, the New South Wales census showed that about 3000 adult male Aborigines, mostly of full descent, were largely assimilated and had regular or seasonal employment in the farming and pastoral industries. No one counted exactly how many Aborigines in New South Wales exercised their right to vote because, with no ethnic test for eligibility, there was no rea­son for officials to record it. However, there was no shortage of public observations that they did. In fact, several observations of Aborigines voting were recorded in debates in the new federal parliament in 1902 over the Commonwealth Franchise Bill. Sir Wil­liam Lyne, the Minister for Home Affairs in the Barton govern­ment, said Aborigines could already vote in New South Wales long before Federation. This meant the Commonwealth could not deny them that right:

We could not prevent the Aboriginals of New South Wales from voting, inasmuch as they can vote now. Many of them exercise the right in the Murray district. I believe many of them voted for the Chairman of Committees [John Moore Chanter, member for Riverina, New South Wales].

In New South Wales, from the early 1890s onwards, so many Aborigines were enrolled to vote that the struggle for their elec­toral loyalty became a public contest. At the election of 1891, the newly formed Labor Electoral Leagues won their first seats in the New South Wales Parliament, gaining a total of thirty-five Labor members, with seventeen of them representing rural seats. This meant Labor held the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly. In central and western New South Wales, the votes of itinerant pastoral workers were essential for Labor members to win seats. In response, farmers and pastoralists formed the National Association in 1892 to combat the labour movement. At some locations, they told Aborigines they should support their employers rather than union organisers; at others, they tried to challenge the names of itinerant workers, including Aboriginal stockmen, on electoral rolls.

In South Australia, electoral laws passed in 1895 specifically stated that Aboriginal people could vote. Since that colony also gave all adult women the right to vote in 1895, that meant both men and women of Aboriginal descent were enfranchised from then on. In 1896 and for years afterwards, between 100 and 200 Aborigines at the Point McLeay Settlement in South Aus­tralia were known to be regular voters at both state and federal elections. Photographs of Aboriginal electors at the Point McLeay polling booth in 1908, and of their names on the South Australian electoral roll in 1905, were long been published on the Australian Electoral Commission’s website. (editor’s note: the original AEC page has been taken down and replaced with a once-over-quickly timeline. The original page can be read via this link to the Wayback Machine Web Archive.)

Local history researchers have found the same in New South Wales, especially in the post-Federation period. For instance, in his thesis Gundungurra Country (2008), anthropologist Jim Smith records that at Cumeroogunga Aboriginal Station on the Murray River, a total of 98 Aboriginal people (50 men and 48 women) were listed on the Commonwealth electoral rolls in 1903 for the Division of Riverina (Moama polling place), while 39 men and 42 women were enrolled there in 1906. From then until 1949, the station’s Aboriginal voters ranged between 60 and 80 people.

Also in New South Wales, Erambie Aboriginal Station, also known as the Erambie Mission, established in Cowra in 1924, became what its historian, Peter Read, called a major grouping of the Wiradjuri people, especially of the Murray, Glass and Coe families. I have checked the electoral rolls to see if any of these families were able to vote in the 1930s in the electoral district of Calare, subdistrict Cowra. I found 34 members of these and other Erambie Aboriginal families on the electoral rolls, 23 of them men and 11 women. The names of the women are there because the Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 gave the vote to all Australian women, including those of Aboriginal descent. Here are their names and addresses:

Murray Family 1930s

Electors: Harry Murray, Herbert John Murray, Jane Murray, Claude Murray, James Murray, Percy Murray, Alan Murray, Alfred Murray, Ethel Murray, Mary Ethel Murray. Adresses given: “Erambie Mission”, “Mission”, “Aboriginal Station”, West Cowra.

Glass Family 1930s

Electors: Sidney Glass, Joseph Glass, Reginald Glass, Amelia Glass. Addresses given: West Cowra, “Mission Reserve Wellington”, “Town Common Wellington”, “Town Common Orange”.

Coe Family 1930s

Electors: Cecil Coe, Leslie Coe, Mary Jane Coe, Paul Coe (senior), Thomas Coe, Edith Coe. Addresses given: West Cowra, Cowra, “Erambie Mission”.

Ingram Family 1930s

Electors: Louisa Agnes Ingram, Lenry Ingram, Lockey Ingram. Addresses given: “Erambie Mission”, West Cowra

Williams Family 1930s

Electors: Alfred John Williams, Elizabeth Williams, George Williams, Arthur Williams, Muriel Williams, Peter Williams. Addresses given: West Cowra, “Mission”, “The Mission”, “Erambie”, “Aborigines Station”

Bamblett Family 1930s

Alfred Bamblett, Cameron Bamblett, James Bamblett, Kathleen Bamblett, Rebecca Hazel Bamblett. Addresses given: West Cowra, “Aboriginal Station”

In Tasmania, both the colonial electoral rolls before Federation and later Commonwealth electoral rolls contain many of the family names of people who have long formed the core of the state’s Aboriginal community. As well as having Tasmanian mainland addresses in the nineteenth century at Launceston, Deloraine, West­bury and Penguin, by 1899 the electoral rolls included the Bass Strait islands and revealed that twenty-two male members of the Barratt, Bee­don, Brown, Burgess, Davey, Everett, Harley, Maclaine, Mansell, Maynard, Smith and Thomas families were enrolled to vote in colonial elections. By the time of the second election for the Commonwealth parliament in 1903, Cape Barren Island women of Aboriginal descent from the same families were also voting alongside the men.

As noted above, only in the colonies of Queensland after 1885, and Western Australia after 1893, were Aborigines denied the vote by means of a property qualification. Rather than endorse this, the writers of the federal Con­stitution introduced a measure in Section 25 that sought to penalise both these states and bring them into line with the oth­ers where Aborigines did have the franchise. Let me re-state the constitutional position, which is sufficient to refute the claims by Professors Davis and Williams that Aborigines were cast out of the polity. At Federation in 1901, the Constitution granted all people who had previously been enrolled to vote in the colonies the right to vote for the Commonwealth parliament. Section 41 of the Constitution said:

No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.

This meant that all Aborigines who before Federation were enrolled to vote in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, were given a constitutional guarantee that they could vote for the federal parliament after 1901. Section 41, which remains to this day intact and unamended, shows that the sweeping claims about constitutional political discrimination made by Davis, Williams and other academic lawyers are com­pletely untrustworthy.

As for women and Chinese and Kanak labourers being denied the vote in the new Federation, Davis does not have a clue what she is talking about. Before the first full national election was held for the new parliament, the Commonwealth Franchise Bill 1902 was passed in order to give the vote to the women of Australia, including all Aboriginal women in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Chinese people resident in Australia could already vote and had long done so in all colonial parliaments. All Australian-domiciled Chinese and any Chinese born in any British colony who were “natural-born subjects of Her Majesty” were eligible to vote in the Australian colonies before 1901 and in the Australian Commonwealth after 1901. When he introduced the Commonwealth Franchise Bill in April 1902, Richard O’Connor, Leader of the Government in the Senate said

I have looked carefully through all the Chinese Restriction Acts, and there is no provision in any of them depriving a Chinaman who is a natural-born subject of His Majesty in any other part of the world from voting if he is here. There are a number of Acts which impose restrictions on Chinese coming here, but being here, there is no provision which deprives them of their right to vote … That being so, the present condition of things is that these natural-born and naturalised British subjects who are here now have the right, and we cannot take it away from them.

On Davis’s list of purported outcasts, only the Kanak labourers were disenfranchised, but there was a good reason for this. They were temporary foreign workers engaged on fixed-term contracts of usually three to five years, after which they were legally obliged to return home to their Pacific Islands, with their employers pre-paying the fare for the return journey. Australia still employs foreign “guest workers” under similar arrangements. They are not Australian citizens and don’t get to vote in Australian elections today either. Only the intractable mentality now cultivated within the law schools of our universities could regard such people as victims of racism.

 

The “race provision” in Section 25

The first problem is section 25. It acknowledges the states can disqualify people from voting due to their race. This reflects the fact that at Federation in 1901, and for decades afterwards, states denied the vote to Aborigines. Unfortunately, the constitution still recognises this as being acceptable. The section is repugnant and should be deleted. — George Williams, Sydney Morning Herald, 2010

 Section 25 demonstrates how we were excluded from democratic participation: we were prevented from voting and therefore from exercising our democratic rights. — Noel Pearson, A Rightful Place, 2014

The report of Julia Gillard’s expert panel recommends the repeal of Section 25 of the Constitution because it “is a racially discriminatory provision that contemplates the disqualification of all persons ‘of any race’ from voting in State elections”. How­ever, no one should be bluffed into accepting this. Section 25 says in full:

For the purposes of the last section, if by the law of any State, all persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, then, in reckoning the number of people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of the race resident in that state shall not be counted.

Section 25 of the Constitution was designed to respond to the election policies of Queensland and Western Australia by reducing the number of their federal members in the House of Representatives, which was determined by the size of a state’s population. Where a state denied Aborigines the vote, then Abo­riginal people could not be included in the statistics of its population. This mattered in Queensland, where in 1901 the government counted 6670 assimilated Aborigines but estimated there were another 20,000 living within state borders beyond white settlement; and in Western Australia where there were 19,000 known Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal inhabitants, plus an estimated 10,000 living in still unexplored territory beyond the limits of settlement.

When finally explored between the two world wars, these regions turned out to have very small Aboriginal populations, only a fraction of those estimated. But if they had been permit­ted to use these estimates in 1901, the states of Queensland and Western Australia would have each boosted its number of par­liamentary representatives by one.

The expert panel’s report does acknowledge this last point but still claims the Constitution actually approved of the racially discriminatory voting laws in Queensland and Western Australia. “Section 25 countenances the exclusion of persons of particular races from State elections,” the report says. The word countenances used here is quite decep­tive. The Constitution guaranteed that in the four states where Aboriginal people had the vote, they thereby had the right to vote for the Commonwealth. At the same time it penalised the two states that denied Aborigines the franchise. Section 25 did not abolish those arrangements but neither did it “countenance” or otherwise approve of them.

The original inspiration for Section 25 was the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America when it refashioned political rights in the aftermath to the Civil War of 1861–65. In July 1868, the Americans adopted this as one of their Reconstruction Amendments. Its aim was to gain the franchise for former black slaves in the South who were now American citizens. It penalised those states in the American South whose franchise still retained racial dis­qualification. In recording this connection, John Quick and Robert Garran’s Annotated Constitution of the Australian Constitution (1901) observed that the American Fourteenth Amendment:

was designed to penalize by a reduction of their federal representation, those states which refused to enfranchise the negroes. The effect of the section in this [Australian] Constitution [Section 25] is that where, in any State, all the persons of any race—such, for instance, as Polynesians, Japanese, &c—are disqualified from voting at elections for the popular Chamber in the State, the persons of that race resident in that State cannot be counted in the statistics used for ascertaining the quota.

Overall, this meant that in Australia all adult males, including those of Aboriginal descent, in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, who had previously been enrolled to vote in the colonies, had the right to vote for the Commonwealth parliament. And for the two states that denied the vote to Abo­rigines before 1901, Queensland and Western Australia, Section 25 reduced their potential number of federal representatives. On these grounds, the assertion that Section 25 makes the Con­stitution a racist document is patently false.

 

Section 51(xxvi) and racial discrimination

The myths spread about Section 51(xxvi) are even more outlandish. George Williams claims: “Section 51(xxvi) was deliberately inserted into the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to discriminate against sections of the commu­nity on account of their race.” Yet this is the Section that was amended after the famous referendum of 1967, when 90 per cent of the Australian people voted Yes, thereby allowing the Commonwealth power to make laws for Aboriginal people.

Before 1967, that power was reserved only for the states. This was because the first Commonwealth governments were mainly concerned with national issues and foreign affairs, while matters of social and domestic policy were retained by the states.

When the 1967 referendum was put to the Australian people, all the media publicity and even handout material at polling booths reproduced a joint statement by Prime Minister Harold Holt, Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam and Country Party leader John McEwen that the Commonwealth would only gain the power to make laws “in the best interests” of Aboriginal people. However, today’s critics now claim this clause allows racial discrimination. It could supposedly be used against the interests of Aboriginal people. The example they most commonly give is the Howard government’s intervention in 2007 which allegedly breached Aboriginal rights to self-determination by restricting the sale of alcohol, by introducing welfare cards and by sending in the police to arrest the elders of several remote communities in northern Australia who were having sex with children – some discrimination!

Moreover, critics of Section 51(xxvi) deceive the public by claiming the High Court in the Kartinyeri case in 1998 actually decided that this clause could be used to disadvantage Aboriginal people. This claim has been made not only by legal academics and Aboriginal activists, but also by Gillard’s expert panel. However, the High Court did not decide any such thing. In its 1998 decision, the court was evenly divided on that particular issue: two judges for (Gummow and Hayne) and two judges against (Kirby and Gaudron). This is not just my opinion. The senior counsel for the Ngarrindjeri women who brought the case in 1998, James Spigelman, later Chief Justice of New South Wales, wrote in a Quadrant article in April 2012:

The [expert panel’s] Report asserts, as if it were not open to argument, that the race power in s51(xxvi) can be used to discriminate against the people of a race. It refers to the High Court judgment in Kartinyeri as authority for that proposition. The point may or may not be correct, but that judgment is by no means clear in this respect.

And yet Aboriginal politicians Linda Burney and Ken Wyatt have claimed on the hustings and in newspaper opinion pieces, without anyone rebuking them, that the High Court’s lack of a majority on this issue was actually a clear-cut decision that the Constitution “even has sections that allow for dis­crimination based on race”.

 

Section 41 and the Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902

Mr Crouch (Corio).—I desire to point out that unless it is intended to alter clause 4, the effect of this clause will be to give every aboriginal in Australia a vote if he chooses to claim one.

Sir William Lyne.—That is intended. —on introducing the Commonwealth Franchise Bill, House of Representatives, April 1902

Despite the guarantee provided by Section 41 that anyone entitled to vote in colonial elections retained the same right to vote for the Commonwealth parliament, its implications remain widely misrepresented today. George Williams never misses a chance to try to score points against the authors of the Constitution on this question. In 2016, reviewing a book of essays on the proposed constitutional referendum, he wrote:

The founders of the Australian nation saw no place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Instead, these peoples were cast as outsiders in their own land, a “dying race” not expected to survive British settlement. The Australian Constitution that came into force in 1901 incorporated these sentiments … Australia’s constitutional structure was soon reflected in the nation’s laws. One of the first acts of the new parliament was to exclude Aboriginal peoples from the franchise.

This passage by Williams is risible. Rather than seeing “no place” for Aboriginal people, the authors of the Constitution included Section 41, which made it constitutionally impossible for the federal parliament to exclude Australia’s Aboriginal peoples from the franchise. It guaranteed that all those Aborigines who could vote in the colonial elections in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania retained the same right to vote for the new Commonwealth Parliament. The only Aborigines excluded were those in Queensland and Western Australia where there was a £100 property qualification for voting, which continued in each of those two states after Federation. As someone who brags in his profile on his university’s website that he is “one of Australia’s leading constitutional law­yers and public commentators”, Williams must surely be well aware of this himself. Yet he has chosen to keep the information from readers of his commentaries in the mainstream media.

There should not be any doubts about the meaning of Section 41 or its implications for indigenous rights to vote. The Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 could not alter or evade Section 41’s constitutional guarantee, as many speakers in the parliamentary debates at the time publicly stated, including the Barton government’s leader in the Senate, Richard O’Connor, when he introduced the relevant Bill. Section 41 has never been amended and so remains in force to this day. Its wording, as shown in the emphases below, refers not only to those who had the vote before 1901 but also to those who acquired it at any time after. Section 41 says:

No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.

Hence, Section 41 must mean that, in those states where the Aboriginal right to vote had never been repealed—New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania—Aboriginal people listed on state electoral rolls at any time before or after 1901 were always eligible to vote in federal elections.

This is the second of two edited extracts from Keith Windschuttle’s book, The Break-up of Australia: The Real Agenda behind Aboriginal Recognition (Quadrant Books). All of the above quotations here are fully referenced by following this link

20 comments
  • Ned Overton

    To give the debate on Albo’s proposed referendum even a modicum of balance, is anyone publicly leading the “No” case at present? Can any of you help us begin? Where is the “No” case website? It’s needed now. Quadrant is providing abundant material to help frame a well-informed “No” argument. We should acknowledge the need to fight the distortions and not be put off by the minefield of lies about what our constitution actually says. It is clear that the “Voice” referendum is the most fundamental and far-reaching issue of our lifetimes. Most of us want a vote that results in a (continuing) undivided nation, with equal rights for us all, as enshrined in our founding document and confirmed in 1967.

  • gilmay97

    No Referendum Required

    People who disregard the Law with horrendous violence in their communities want a referendum for everyone else obey — Prove your worthiness by obeying and respecting existing law.

    The social engineers, do-gooders, and those with disrespect for equal representation in the parliament
    and little analytic ability want a Referendum to give Aboriginals a greater voice in parliament than any other Australian citizens. These peopl do not appear to have the intelligence to understand a Democracy does not work like that — that is how Dictatorships work with a select few having a greater voice than others, that always morphs into greater control and brutality upon those who disagree.

    A democracy is based on people having equal voting rights to elect whoever they choose with policies they consider best for their country and community. The 2022 election saw ten indigenous people elected to parliament, giving a 4.41 percent of the 227 parliamentarians for a group that is only 3.2 percent of the population and other Australians 96.8%; on that basis they could be deemed over represented.

    Other ethnic groups in the community and Australians at large take the view that it does not matter what your ethnicity is, you will work equally for all people without bias, fear nor favour.
    Wise aboriginal leaders have also stated their opposition to such Referendum, as it will likely create a deep divide within the Australian people where it won’t just be current racial abuse of aboriginals attacking and blaming others for their own inabilities, violence, and abuse of law — the rest of Australia will object to these aboriginal abuses of each other, their destruction of settlements, and houses provided by millions of taxpayer’s monies, — they will risk the people withdrawing their funding.

    Extreme violence requires extreme measures to resolve.

    If the extreme aboriginal violence as in Wadeye, Aurukun etc, were to occur in any other non-aboriginal community there would be outrage and the problem quickly dismantled — Why is it ongoing for decades in these communities? Women and children, raped, bashed terrorised, forced to leave home with nowhere to go, this domestic terrorism should never have been allowed to developed, but it did because no one was prepared to forcefully protect the families, by taking the perpetrator out of the community for mental health assessment and if deemed necessary put into a psychiatric ward — in case they were called a racist. In this instance being called a racist would be a badge-of-honour for protecting the defenceless brutalised women and children.

    Where are the Women’s Rights activist on this issue — obviously useless when it comes to real tough issues that require hard work and solutions, away from the ‘fluffy’ city life of making public statements from an air-conditioned office.

  • restt

    The change to Section 51(xxvi) allows the Commonwealth to make laws for any race … it is referred to as the race power. It could be used to pass discriminatory laws. In 1976 the Racial Discrimination Act was enacted which make it only possible for laws that are “positively” discriminating.

    The intervention required the government to suspend the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act to negate any legal action for the government taking necessary action. What Australians (including Aboriginals) see as necessary action is seen by other Aboriginals and activists as racist.

    The solution is that there should be no race in any law or the constitution. All Laws should simply define “need” and then target legislation to cater to the need.

  • Davidovich

    Ned Overten is quite right in saying it is essential to have the facts publicised about the distortions presented by advocates for the Voice. Quadrant is doing more than its fair share but the material by Keith Windschuttle needs wider dissemination in the media which would be a major battle to achieve. It really needs the Coalition Opposition to point out the myriad pieces of misinformation and to appoint a member of their team to lead the fight. However, that is probably a forlorn hope.

  • Brian Boru

    Wow. Thank you Keith for this monumental expose of the falsehoods perpetuated by the supposedly eminently qualified but biased academics and others.
    .
    However, I believe in the here and now, not in guilt trips to the past. Australians’ innate sense of eqalitarianism must surely defeat this fraud and it’s objective.
    .
    This article should be circulated far and wide.

  • alandungey

    Keith, your research about the Erambie Mission at Cowra is most worthwhile. Given that nowadays it is widely agreed that many people with only a small proportion of Aboriginal genetic ancestry are in fact Aboriginal, it must surely be the case that many Aboriginal people voted, even in Queeensland and Western Australia where the law purported to exclude them. I wonder if, notwithstanding the laws in WA which purported to exclude Aboriginal people from the state franchise, there were Noongars in the South West of WA who nonetheless voted. The family descent of the Noongar people has been well documented, https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/catalogue_resources/m0022954_a.pdf and if the records are are publicly accessible, it would not be difficult to check the rolls at say Roelands (Roelands Mission) or Katanning (Carrolup Mission) against the most distinctive Noongar family names.

  • saorsa660

    The comments on Tasmania are interesting, during the 2018 Federal Election Campaign in the seat of Braddon, the Greens (and TAC member) candidate called for the name of the seat to be changed, a move supported by Michael Mansell who argued publicly (and unchalleged) that it should not be named after “the white supremacist Edward Braddon”. The simple fact is that Aboriginal males in Tasmania, along with all other adult males over the age of 21 gained the right to vote in 1896, while Braddon was the Premier. Strange as it may seem, Aboriginal men in Tasmania actually gained the vote before European women who had to wait until 1903.

  • john.singer

    The misrepresentations and untruths are not restricted to Law Professors.

    The current Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP is a former member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, in her maiden speech as an MLA on 6 May 2003 she made this statement: “I was born in 1957. For the first 10 years of my life, like all indigenous people at that time, I was not a citizen of this country. We existed under the Flora and Fauna Act of New South Wales. “

  • geoff_brown1

    I found it disgusting that Ms Burney was allowed to perpetrate that outright lie – I rang my local members office to register a complaint, and was told “We don’t want to give Linda Burney an excuse to play the race card.” I wrote to Ms Burney’s office, and never received a reply…

  • Stephen

    It seems that many leftist Academics and Politicians have learned the propaganda technique of telling the big lie often enough. Geobbels looks to be an amateur compared to these folk.

  • Peter Marriott

    Thanks Keith. A lot more back up data in well explained detail that I’m sure from reading your past books and articles….. can be taken to the bank.
    I sometimes muse a bit on the supposed discrimination implied, in not allowing aboriginals to buy alcohol in these communities, after all the rest of Australia can do so if they have money in their pocket and there’s a pub or outlet nearby selling it, as I do myself.
    But of course my buying it comes with certain checks and balances, primarily the amount of money I have in my pocket and whether I can afford to spend it on beer, as I have to work hard for it in a job that I can be sacked from, if I don’t do it diligently, according to my employment agreement. I am not being given the money by the government for doing nothing and my employment can be terminated.
    The term ‘selling of alcohol’ in these communities is a bit of a misnomer I think ; in reality it’s not being sold like it is for the rest of us, it’s basically being given to them in exchange for public money that has also been given to them, and yet their activists seem to demand it as their right with no checks or balances at all.
    It’s impossible to have a proper agreement or ‘voice’with people like that.

  • mags of Queensland

    Since the powers that be refuse to teach our children their national history it is not surprising that students, their teachers and the general public – including academics of all colours – are ignorant about this issue. The only voices heard are the shrill mouthings of activists who have vested interest in the aboriginal industry and virtue signaling others who want to part of the “in” crowd. Thank you Keith for your enlightening articles.

  • Ceres

    Great research and refuting of the claims put forward by the aboriginal industry, lefties. However we know that irrefutable facts and arguments do not matter to such people. They’re aided by a msm/Labor government juggernaut rolling towards “the Indigenous Voice” and look out anyone who disagrees.
    Great point by Ned above, about someone getting organised for the No argument.
    Maybe Pauline walking out of the Senate today over the Acknowledgement to Country may help, or may not as the media will be in overdrive slamming her “racism”.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Keith Windschuttle (thankfully) is an experienced, qualified historian who has researched and presented material here that seems to be somewhat inarguable. (I am a mere scientist, but that does not preclude use of logic, observation and veracity. We have similar problems of poor research promoted by activists.)
    This article raises again for me that in the 1967 Referendum, there was essentially an absence of a Government “No” case presented to any voters in writing. Way back at the 60s Referendum my wife and I were puzzled why the S.51 amendment was needed, because we knew from schoolyard gossip and school lessons that all Australian people (essentially) could vote. In the 1970s I contacted the National Library who kindly did a search that uncovered one sheet of Government paper that mentioned the “No” case but it was mainly about the other question on political numbers.
    My query is whether the Feds are required by any principle of Law or Fair Play to give public advice to voters on how to answer the Referendum question. If there is no requirement, then can the Feds be asked why they consider a one-sided “Yes” case to need publicity paid by the taxpayer.
    It then comes back to the matter raised here by Ned Overton, “Where is the ‘No’ case website?” One has to be blind to the current political horseplay about social issue fads to imagine that there is no need for a well-funded “No” case. The research has been done, as Quadrant readers can see. Action is now needed. Come on you wealthy conservative youngsters! Geoff S

  • Michael Waugh

    Keith,
    I’m concerned that your article contains at least one serious error. The 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act provided in s3 that all persons, male and female, aged 21 and older could vote “subject to the disqualifications hereafter”. Section 4 provided:
    “No aboriginal native of Australia Asia Africa or the Islands of the Pacific except New Zealand shall be entitled to have his name placed on an Electoral Roll unless so entitled under section 41 of the Constitution”
    Aboriginal women did not have the vote in any State other than SA and were specifically excluded from being enrolled by that s4 above. Your assertion that “From 1902 onwards, Aboriginal women in the four respective states had the same right to vote as men” appears to be wrong.
    Further, the Australian Electoral Commission site that you have given us the link to, “History of the Indigenous Vote”, asserts that s41 of the Constitution was given a restrictive meaning, namely, it protected the vote of those persons who were in fact actually enrolled on the date of the enactment of the Constitution. If so, the combination of s41 of the Constitution (protecting the vote of those Aboriginal men already enrolled) and s4 of the 1902 Franchise Act (excluding all Aborigines not protected, that is, not then enrolled) means that most Aborigines were excluded. Those enrolled in 1901 would have been those assimilated into the European society, probably few in number, and, of course, as they died, their number would decrease.

  • Keith Windschuttle

    Hello Michael,
    I’m sorry but your interpretation of the Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 and the scope of Section 41 of the Constitution is the one that is wrong. I discuss this contentious issue at length in my book The Break-up of Australia, pages 196-208 (see especially the case made by Sir John Downer, one of the three-man drafting committee for the Australian Constitution Bill). A shorter and more accessible version of my case is in the debate I had in Quadrant, March and April 2017, with the academic Brian Galligan. See here: https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2017/03/fabrication-aboriginal-voting/
    and here: https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2017/04/fabricating-aboriginal-voting-galligan-vs-windschuttle/. I quote support for my position from Quick and Garran in their monumental 1901 work, the Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth and from the following advice to a House of Representatives select committee in 1961 by the ANU legal academic Geoffrey Sawer, who said: “it is completely clear that s. 41 has the sole effect of guaranteeing the franchise to the persons described; it contains no prohibition on the grant of the franchise to any particular individual, and cannot be used as the basis for any negative inference of that sort.”
    My article in March 2017 also has a longish discussion of the history of Aboriginal voting in the Burragorang Valley of NSW by the anthropologist Jim Smith which, like the other data from electoral rolls in Cumeroogunga and Cowra in NSW and other seats in Tasmania and South Australia provided in my current piece, proves beyond doubt that Aboriginal men and women who were too young to vote before 1901 nonetheless got the vote when they turned 21 in the twentieth century. But there’s no need to trust me. Go to ancestry.com, which has records of Australian electoral rolls since 1901, and google some common Aboriginal surnames like Goolagong and Boney in the early 20th Century and see for yourself.

  • Michael Waugh

    Thanks for replying so swiftly Keith.
    So the words in s4 of the Franchise Act :
    “ No aboriginal of Australia…..shall be entitled to have his name placed on an Electoral Roll unless so entitled under s41 of the Constitution” was aimed only at Aborigines in Queensland and WA ? I’m still puzzled at how Aboriginal women got the vote in light of that section because they were not entitled to vote under s41 of the Constitution , were they, not having had the vote in 1901 ( other than SA)?

  • Keith Windschuttle

    Michael, Section 41 says:
    “No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.”
    This meant that anyone who already, before 1901, had a vote in a state election, or who in the future acquired a state vote, was also guaranteed a vote in the new Commonwealth. In those states where Aborigines had the right to vote — New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania — those who placed themselves on the state electoral rolls at any time before or after 1901 were always eligible to vote in federal elections. In 1902, the Commonwealth parliament extended that eligibility to all women who enrolled to vote in state elections – both before 1901, as in South Australia, or after 1902, as in the other states. But the House of Representatives decided not to overrule the Queensland and WA governments’ denial of the franchise to Aborigines. The debate that preserved this piece of discrimination was dominated by the leftist Protectionist Party identities Henry Bournes Higgins and Isaac Isaacson, strongly supported by James Fowler, the Labor member for Perth. These and other politicians who also opposed vote for Aborigines recognised the constitutional implications of Section 41 that existing electoral laws guaranteed the vote to Aborigines in four of the six states and acknowledged there was nothing they could do about it. So they focused their attention on the two states where Aborigines did not have the vote, Queensland and Western Australia, and eventually persuaded a majority of the House to support them. In the vote for the Commonwealth Franchise Bill of 1902, the Labor Party made a deal: its representatives would support votes for women if the Barton government preserved the status quo of votes for Aborigines in Queensland and WA. Labor leader John Christian Watson Watson claimed that because they were beholden by their employment by local squatters, the Aborigines would vote as they were told. He raised the prospect of “thousands upon thousands of aboriginals” dominating the electorates of northern Australia if they were allowed to vote.
    This was a revealing debate about the political alignments in the racial policies of the time. Unfortunately, you wont read much about in the works of our legal historians today because it doesn’t fit their own political agenda

  • Michael Waugh

    Thanks Keith.

  • Keith Windschuttle

    Forgive the typos in the above. As well as a couple of others, it should be Isaac Isaacs.

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