Australia’s prime minister promises referendum on more impact on indigenous peoples

Australia's prime minister promises referendum on more impact on indigenous peoples

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  • Mike Wiggers

    Australia reporter

  • Mike Wiggers

    Australia reporter

Australia’s Albanian prime minister promises to hold a referendum during his term that will bring more influence to the indigenous population in Parliament. Today the Prime Minister submitted the draft text for referendum with the main question: Should the Indigenous vote be installed in Parliament?

Albany is proposing the formation of a committee to advise Parliament on matters affecting the lives of Aboriginal peoples in Australia. This idea required a constitutional amendment that could not simply be reversed by future governments.

The Prime Minister emphasized that this was not some kind of “third chamber” of Parliament and that the committee had no veto power.

There is no new plan

The plan to enshrine the indigenous voice in the constitution is not new. After long research and consultation, Indigenous leaders came up with a “Uluru Statement from the Heart” in 2017. In it they explain what recognition of Indigenous Peoples in Parliament should look like. Hundreds of indigenous chiefs gathered for days at the foot of the great red rock in the center of the country: Uluru.

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Uluru rock

But Prime Minister Turnbull rejected the proposal, and the subsequent government failed to organize a referendum.

In his electoral victory in May, Al-Albani promised that he would adopt all the recommendations of the Uluru Declaration of the Heart. “I think Australians have space in their hearts, for a statement from the heart,” Albany said, speaking at today’s Jarma Festival, the country’s largest Aboriginal festival.

bloody history

It is an attempt by the state to come to terms with its bloody history. Since the British set foot in 1788, the indigenous population has been disenfranchised and oppressed. The settlers decided that Australia was a “commons land”: the land of no one. This means that no treaty was concluded with the indigenous population. Indigenous peoples were systematically exterminated for years and infected with Western diseases.

This population is still vulnerable today. People live on average eight to nine years shorter than the rest of the population. There are many chronic diseases such as obesity. Unemployment is high and convicted Indigenous peoples make up a disproportionate proportion of the prison population. A large part of the community lives in remote places, where there are often no basic amenities such as running water.

Stolen Generations

Successive governments have contributed to the trauma of many generations of indigenous people. For example, there are “Stolen Generations”. About a hundred thousand Aboriginal children were taken from their parents between 1910 and 1970. The government’s policy was conscious to give Australia an identity as white and Western as possible. This has led to a lot of misery that current generations are still experiencing.

In 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized for the suffering inflicted on Aboriginal people by the government over the years.

In recent years, many governments have attempted to reduce social inequality, but the policies have had little effect. The hope is that if the indigenous community is more involved, that will change.

By the way, it is not easy to amend the constitution in Australia. Only eight of the country’s 44 referendums were successful. The opposition’s support is not yet certain. There is no date for the referendum yet, but the government wants to hold it before the next elections in 2025.

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