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1967, The Lone Star Referendum?
Time: 2013-05-08    BY Nancy   From: University of Tasmania   Clicks: 2726
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Riawunna Centre Seminars coming up

UTAS Associate Professor Barbara Hocking will be giving a talk on Indigenous constitutional recognition at both the Hobart and Launceston UTAS campuses this May.

Assoc Prof Hocking is an Honorary Research Associate with Riawunna and former lecturer with the School of Law.

Her current research interests include constitutional law, legal history, human rights and elder law.

To change the Constitution requires a majority of voters in a majority (at least four out of six) of States to agree with the proposed change. This is the referendum process set out in Section 128.

Any proposal for a referendum must first be passed by both Houses of the federal Parliament, before proceeding to the people of Australia for their vote. There have been 19 referendums with 44 separate questions and only eight have passed that exacting threshold. Of those eight, the amendment proposed to Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution in 1967 is the best known.

The Section originally granted power to the Commonwealth to make law with respect to ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.The proposal was to delete the words ‘other than the aboriginal race.

This referendum proposal, supported by both the major political parties and driven by a strong cohort of Aboriginal activists was a unique and over-whelming success. Yet, post the referendum, the changes to the text of the constitutional provision, brought in its wake unexpected problems, notably the question whether the revised Section (xxvi) permits discriminatory laws.

Many hoped, however, that our next referendum would revisit formal recognition of Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution, but as it turns out it will deal solely with recognition of local government. Why?

Launceston event
When: 4pm - 6pm, Monday 20th May, 2013
Where: Riawunna Centre, Launceston, Building K, Newnahm Campus, Cnr AMC Drive and Maritime Way

Hobart event
When: 4pm - 6pm, Wednesday 22nd May, 2013
Where: Riawunna Centre, Hobart, Level 1, Hytten Hall, French Street, Sandy Bay (pictured)

Further information, Jaime.Cave@utas.edu.au or (03) 6226 2772

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