Indigenous Australians Gained Equal Rights in 1967, That Should Have Been Enough
It doesn’t take too much to prove that the left and various social justice movements, contrary to their rhetoric are not about achieving equality for all people. Instead they are about gaining special privileges for designated victim groups, pitting various identity groups against each other which stirs up community unrest as well as diving society into oppressors and the oppressed.
This no truer when it comes to the left’s approach to indigenous affairs, despite us spending billions of dollars on indigenous welfare year after year, affirmative action for indigenous Australians to get ahead in their career and a national apology for the so called stolen generation. So far none of this has been good enough to achieve the described goal of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Now the latest olive branch our federal politicians have handed to the reconciliation movement, indigenous recognition in Australia’s Constitution that states that they were the first inhabitants of Australia has just been outright rejected by a group of indigenous leaders with the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Instead they want a new representative body for Indigenous people funded by the federal government and elected by Indigenous people (this opens the question who will be considered Indigenous enough to vote?). They want this representative body enshrined in the Constitution essentially creating two separate parliaments in Australia, one where suffrage and eligibility to stand depends on your race. They also would like this body to negotiate a treaty between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Indigenous leader Noel Pearson said “It’ll be a political voice. In order to have good policy and good laws enacted by the parliament, Indigenous peoples need to have a say. They need to have a national voice in our democratic system.” It is here where the reconciliation movement is exposed as being the enemy of liberal democracy, it wants some citizens voice to be louder than others, based entirely on race. All because their long dead ancestors inhabited Australia first.
It is now over two centuries after European settlement to Australia, in fact we are now inhabited by races of people from all over the world, the Indigenous people of today should not be affected by events that happened to their ancestors in the distant past. The reason why they should not be affect is because successive Australian Governments have corrected state sanctioned discrimination against Indigenous Australians.
In fact, Indigenous Australians today have the same equal rights as every other Australian. They have had the same rights ever since the 1967 referendum, the 50th anniversary of which we just celebrated which successfully changed Australia’s Constitution to allow Indigenous Australians to be counted as being of the same value as other Australians in the census and for apportionment and also allowed the federal government to enact policy to look after the welfare of Indigenous Australians.
The conventional wisdom is that people were a lot more racist in 1967 than they were today, yet this referendum passed with 90.77% of the vote and was universally backed by Australia’s political and community leadership. This is from a nation which has only passed 8 out of 43 referendums as it is traditionally hesitant about changing our Constitution. Even in 1967 Australians wanted to address the disadvantage that Indigenous people faced and believed that were entitled to same equal rights as every other Australian.
In nation based on equality before the law this referendum should have been enough, but as has just been described the left and the indigenous industry have always demanded more laws and money to correct alleged disadvantage. You cannot blame racism for the current plight of indigenous people as the 1967 referendum result proved that Australians weren’t, as they considered indigenous people their equals.
The principle of self-responsibility is no longer deemed to be expected from indigenous people as reflected in the Uluru Statement “Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people,” “Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future’’.
It is worth noting that another discriminatory policy began to be dismantled during the same period which was the White Australia Policy. It worth noting that the Prime Minister at the time Harold Holt, even though he is most famous for going missing while swimming was actually one of our most progressive Prime Ministers in his short time in office (he introduced the Australian currency as well). Today you can hardly argue that the legacy of the White Australia policy has affected the abilities of various migrant groups to integrate and thrive in Australian society. For example, Chinese Australians now occupy prominent positions of leadership in business and the community. How come a supposedly racist Australia has not affected their advancement in our society?
If we want to help Indigenous people we need to return to the principles of self-responsibility and actual equality before the law. Endless welfare and affirmative action has not worked, nor will constitutional recognition, a special Indigenous parliament, a treaty or other symbolic acts. We have tried things the left’s way and it has even left us more divided than we were in 1967. Let’s truly reflect the spirit of 1967 and treat every citizen the same.