Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians Essay

Introduction During the 2010 Federal election. both major political parties campaigned on autochthonal personal businesss. Following the ALP’s triumph. Prime Minister Gillard established an independent Expert Panel to “to look into how to give consequence to constitutional acknowledgment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ” Two schools of idea have dominated the national conversation of how this should be achieved. One position is that an amendment to the preamble of the fundamental law will supply safe and symbolic acknowledgment. The alternate position is that more substantial reform is required to procure equality before the jurisprudence.

On January 16 2012. the Panel presented the Prime Minister their study and proposed five amendments to the Commonwealth Constitution. This paper will measure the five proposals and the grounds offered by the Panel. Each amendment will be analysed on its symbolic significance and possible legal branchings. Finally this paper will reason on how to outdo give Indigenous Australians acknowledgment within the fundamental law. Constitutional Recognition For the panel. constitutional acknowledgment of Indigenous Australians means taking commissariats in the Constitution that contemplate racial favoritism.

Whether intended or non. the five proposals address the broader issues of racial favoritism and equality before the jurisprudence within the Commonwealth Constitution. Revoking subdivision 25 In its study. the Panel indicates that 97. 5 % of all entries approve of revoking subdivision 25. Section 25 reads: For the intents of the last subdivision. if by the jurisprudence of any State all individuals of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more legion House of the Parliament of the State. so. in thinking the figure of the people of the State or of the Commonwealth. individuals of that race occupant in that State shall non be counted.

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On face value. subdivision 25 appears racialist as it contemplates States excepting electors on the evidences of race. This reading has been affirmed by Chief Justice Gibbs in McKinlays’s instance ( 1975 ) . Section 25 must be read with subdivision 24 to determine the existent purpose of the framers. Section 24 specifies that the figure of lower house representatives is determined by spliting the entire figure of people of the Commonwealth by twice the figure of senators and so spliting the population of each province by that quota.

Therefore. by racially excepting electors the numerical input of the State’s population is reduced ; the State’s federal representation lessenings and prejudiced provinces forgo greater federal representation. Although subdivision 25 was intended to punish racially prejudiced provinces. a State was able to ordain prejudiced statute law by outlining Torahs that did non disfranchise ‘all’ members of a racial group. For case. New South Wales denied certain categories of autochthonal people the right to vote. The panel states that this proposal is ‘technically and lawfully sound’ .

Many constitutional observers agree but there is a little minority who have identified possible legal effects. In 1980. Justice Dean included subdivision 25 as a proviso vouching the right to vote. The right to vote is non constitutionally entrenched. Parliament has authorization to find the electoral procedure pursuant to subdivision 30. It is ill-defined whether the High Court would happen statute law that disqualified people of certain races from voting invalid because of the subdivision 7 words ‘directly chosen by the people’ and subdivision 24.

Theoretically. it may be argued that subdivision 25 should non be removed until the right to vote is constitutionally entrenched. However. this position is extremely irregular and subdivision 25 should be repealed. Revoking subdivision 51 ( XXIV ) Section 51 ( twenty-six ) authorises the Commonwealth to do Torahs with regard to “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to do particular laws” . The Panel recommends taking subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) as it contemplates favoritism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In Koowarta 5 Bjelke-Petersen. the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission was denied buying Pastoral belongings from the Crown. The Queensland Minister for Lands reasoned that ‘the authorities did non see favorable proposals to get big countries of land for development by Natives in isolation’ . Koowarta argued that the Minister was in breach of subdivisions 9 and 12 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 ( Cth ) . Joh Bjelke-Petersen challenged the constitutional cogency of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 ( Cth ) . The Premier argued that s51 ( xxvi ) ‘does non confabulate power to do Torahs which apply to all races’ .

A bulk of the High Court found that subdivisions 9 and 12 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 were invalid pursuant to s 51 ( twenty-six ) . The Hindmarsh Island Bridge instance illustrates parliament’s ability to ordain adversely prejudiced Torahs in relation to race. The instance concerned whether the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act 1997 ( Cth ) could take rights which the complainants enjoyed under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1986 ( Cth ) . The Ngarrindjeri adult females argued that the races power merely allowed parliament to go through Torahs that are for the benefit of a peculiar race.

The Commonwealth argued that there were no bounds to the power. The High Court found that as the Heritage Protection Act was validly enacted under s 51 ( twenty-six ) . the same caput of power could back up a whole or partial abrogation. The High Court was divided on whether S 51 ( twenty-six ) could merely be used for the promotion or benefit of a racial group. In his opinion. Justice Kirby found that subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) ‘does non widen to the passage of Torahs damaging to or discriminatory against. the people of any race ( including the Aboriginal race ) by mention to their race’ .

Justices Gummow and Hayne said that there was no footing for reading s51 ( twenty-six ) as non allowing inauspicious favoritism. In drumhead. Kartinyeri v The Commonwealth did non corroborate that Torahs enacted under subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) must be good. Since so. it has by and large been accepted that s 51 ( twenty-six ) gives the Commonwealth power to know apart either in favor or against members of a peculiar race. The remotion of S51 ( xxvi ) would be a important symbolic gesture to Indigenous Australians as they are the lone group to whom subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) Torahs have been enacted.

Not all Torahs passed under s 51 ( twenty-six ) have been adversely prejudiced. In Commonwealth V Tasmania ( The Tasmanian Dam Case ) . subdivisions 8 and 11 of The World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 ( Cth ) were held to be constitutionally valid pursuant to s 51 ( twenty-six ) . As a consequence. the Franklin River Hydroelectric Dam could non be constructed in a topographic point considered spiritually important by Aboriginal people. A abrogation of subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) might non annul the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act.

Other powers. specifically the external personal businesss power in s51 ( xxix ) . would back up this statute law under the rule of double word picture. Other good statute law may non be supported under the same rule. In Western Australia v The Commonwealth. the tribunal found The Native Title Act 1993 ( Cth ) constitutionally valid pursuant to subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) . The tribunal did non happen it necessary to see any other caputs of power. Australia’s indorsement of the UN Deceleration on the Rights of Autochthonal Peoples may supply range to back up the Native Title Act 1993 ( Cth ) under the external personal businesss power.

However. it seems foolhardy to chance with statute law that establishes a model for the protection and acknowledgment of native rubric. Revoking subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) will besides restrict the Commonwealth’s ability to go through new Torahs for the promotion of Autochthonal Australians. For these grounds. the Panel proposes that the abrogation of subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) must be accompanied by a new caput of power with regard to Indigenous Australians. Inserting subdivision 51A The preamble to S51A is the first recommendation which really addresses the of import parts of Autochthonal Australians.

Section 51A besides allows the Commonwealth to makes Torahs with regard to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Similar to subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) . the power contained within subdivision 51A is non capable to any conditions. This is slightly of a dual edged blade. All Torahs presently passed under subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) have merely been enacted with regard to Indigenous Australians. As the power is non capable to any limitation. all statute law pursuant to subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) would most likely be supported by subdivision 51A. Alternatively. subdivision 51A could be used to ordain statute law that is adversely prejudiced.

The Panel states that the preamble which acknowledges ‘the demand to procure the promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ will extenuate this hazard. However. a preamble is merely used to decide an ambiguity within a text. The power to do Torahs with regard to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is non peculiarly equivocal. The Panel’s predicts Torahs passed pursuant to s 51A would be assessed on whether they loosely benefit the group concerned. The existent word used is ‘advancement’ which would be interpreted otherwise to ‘benefit’ .

Furthermore. the High Court is non ever ready to encompass a value opinion such as one based ‘benefit’ . Credit should be given to the Panel for this proposal. The preamble to Section 51A constitutionally recognises the history. civilization and parts of Autochthonal Australians. The new caput of power will probably guarantee that current statute law pursuant to subdivision 51 ( twenty-six ) will go on to run. Section 51A besides removes parliament’s power to ordain Torahs with respects to a person’s race. This proposal addresses the apartheid nature of our fundamental law.

However. Section 51A is non the white knight which was hoped for. It will be the tribunals who decide whether this new power is equivocal. If Section 51A is found to be equivocal. the tribunals will hold important discretion in construing the significance of “advancement” . To get the better of these issues. the panel has recommended that a racial non-discrimination proviso ( S116A ) be added to the fundamental law. Inserting subdivision 116A There are both policy and legal issues refering subdivision 116A. First. Australia has a history of avoiding constitutional intrenchments of rights.

The proposed anti-discrimination proviso merely protects racial groups. Section 116A may be viewed as favoring anti-racial favoritism over anti-sex favoritism or anti-homophobic favoritism. The first legal consideration is which groups will be protected by subdivision 116A. Judaic people are recognized as an cultural group but Muslims are non. It is unsure whether Muslims would have the same protection as Jews. Furthermore. would a individual who converted to Judaism have indistinguishable protection as a individual who was born Jewish?

The 2nd legal issue is how Section 116A will impact bing province and commonwealth anti-discrimination statute law. For illustration. Anti-discrimination province jurisprudence authorise favoritism in the employment of histrions for grounds of ‘authenticity’ . In add-on. subdivisions 12 and 15 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 ( Cth ) permits people to know apart when they are seeking for person to portion or work with in their place. Once once more. it will be for the tribunal to make up one’s mind if these commissariats are constitutionally invalid.

The panel has affirmed that S116A ( 2 ) will back up Torahs enacted under s 51 ( twenty-six ) and subdivision 51A. Like subdivision 51A. subdivision 116A could be interpreted by the tribunals in ways that were non intended. The tribunals will hold important discretion in finding what “is for the intent of get the better ofing disadvantage” . An of import issue for the Indigenous community is the Northern Territory Intervention. In Wurridjal V Commonwealth. the high tribunal upheld the government’s partial abrogation of the Racial Discrimination Act under the race powers.

The tribunal besides upheld the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act pursuant to subdivision 51 ( twenty-nine ) . Due to the rule of double word picture. it is improbable that S116A will supply an avenue for Autochthonal people to contend the intercession. S116A is likely the most controversial recommendation as it concerns equality before the jurisprudence. This issue is likely better dealt with by an adept panel measuring a Bill of Rights. To accomplish a similar consequence. the panel could suggest that subdivision 51A has an attach toing proviso similar to 116A ( 2 ) . Insert subdivision 127A.

Section 127A is a proviso which recognises Autochthonal linguistic communications as the original linguistic communication of Australia. A separate linguistic communication proviso is necessary to capture the importance of traditional linguistic communications within Autochthonal civilization. Section 127A besides acknowledges that English is the national linguistic communication of Australia. The Panel rejected a entry proposing ‘all Australian citizens shall hold the freedom to talk. maintain and convey the linguistic communication of their choice’ . The Panel did non desire to give rise to legal challenges sing the right to cover with authorities in languages other than English.

It is ill-defined what practical effect would flux from s127A. Section 127A could be used to procure support for Autochthonal linguistic communications on the evidences of ‘national heritage’ . However. the Panel does non mean for this proviso to give rise to new legal rights. S127A is symbolically of import and is an appropriate manner of constitutionally recognizing Autochthonal Australians. Summary of analysis This analysis concludes that the five proposals put frontward by the panel suitably balance substantial reform and symbolic significance. As a consequence. the Panel should be congratulated.

If the Panel’s end was to take overtly racist tones within the Australian Constitution so they have succeeded. If the panels objective was to definitively rectify the wrongs of Kartinyeri v Commonwealth and the Northern Territory Intervention so they have failed. The amendments proposed do non sufficiently address racial discriminatory Acts of the Apostless passed under other caputs of power. Section 116A ( 2 ) has been perceived as a tasteful reformulation of the races power. Furthermore. the proposals provides the tribunals significant discretion in construing footings such as “overcoming disadvantage” . “advancement” and “group” .

In kernel. the most of import issue does non concern symbolic alteration or substantial reform. It is merely a inquiry of which proposals will derive bipartizan support. Conclusion The panel’s proposals could win at referendum. First. Australians are more likely to back up something substantial than strictly symbolic. Second. this is non an issue which would be perceived as a ‘politicians’ proposal. Australians are hesitating to back up proposals perceived as self-serving. Third. the Panel indicates that its proposals are capable of being supported by an overpowering bulk of Australians.

However. to win at referendum. the support from the Federal resistance authorities and all State authoritiess is indispensable. It is really easy. and sometimes attractive. for the federal Opposition to oppose a referendum. It can be a utile manner of bring forthing a negative public reaction to the authorities and its docket. Since 2010. the Coalition has fought the authorities on about every political issue. Even when the parties agree in rule. they have different ways of work outing the issue. For illustration. both parties are for off-shore processing of illegal immigrants but disagree on where and how it should be done.

Both parties are committed to recognizing Autochthonal Australians within the fundamental law. So far. the LNP has said it will see substantial reform but has merely committed to preambular acknowledgment. The Panel non merely recommends substantial reform but besides addresses racial equality before the jurisprudence. It is really unsure whether the LNP will back up a policy so different to their 2010 election promise. The following federal election is merely 18 months off. If the referendum and election are held at the same time. there is more incentive for the Coalition to oppose the Panel’s recommendation.

It would be black for the state if the referendum fails. The ‘gap’ will swell and the international community will see Australia as a state of racialists. It could be argued that the Government should hold appointed a bipartizan panel instead than an independent panel. A bipartizan panel may non hold produced ‘better’ recommendations to those of the Panel. They would. nevertheless. have generated proposals that both parties would stand behind. Bibliography * ABC Television. ‘Asylum searcher stand-off intensifies’ . The Midday Report. 20 December 2011.

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* Morse. Bradford. “Indigenous Commissariats in Constitutions Around the World” 2011 Paper located at & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www. youmeunity. org & gt ; . * Pengelley. Nicholas. ‘Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act – Must Laws Based on the Race Power be for the Benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders- and What has Bridge Building got to make with the Race Power Anyway’ ( 1998 ) 20 Sydney Law Review 144. * Prior. Flip. ‘Recognition canvass unlikely. yearss Dodson’ . The West Australian. 11 April 2012. * Rintoul. Stuart. ‘Race power opens Pandora’s box’ . The Australian. 22 December 2011

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1 Constitutional Law’ [ 19. 1. 230 ] . * Thomson Reuters. The Laws of Australia. ( at April 2012 ) . ’19. 5 Federal constitutional system’ [ 19. 5. 157. 1 ] . * Thomson Reuters. The Laws of Australia. ( at April 2012 ) . ’21. 10 Equality and the Rule of Law’ [ 21. 10. 160 ] * Thomson Reuters. The Laws of Australia. ( at April 2012 ) . ’21. 10 Equality and the Rule of Law’ [ 21. 10. 350 ] . * Twomey. Ann. Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Explained ( University of Sydney Law School Constitutional Reform Unit. 26 January 2012 ) . * Ward. Alexander. ‘At the Risk of Rights: Does true acknowledgment require substantial reform?

’ ( 2011 ) 7 Autochthonal Law Review 25. * Watson. Nicole. ‘The Northern Territory Emergency Response – Has It Truly Improved the Lifes of Aboriginal Women and Children? ’ ( 2011 ) 35 Australian Feminist Law Journal 147. * Williams. George. ‘Recognising Autochthonal peoples in the Australian Fundamental law: what the Fundamental law should state and how the referendum can be won’ ( 2011 ) 5 Land. Rights. Torahs: Issues of Native Title 1. * Winckel. Anne. ‘Recognising Autochthonal Peopless in the Preamble: Deductions. Issues and Interpretation’ ( 2011 ) 7 Autochthonal Law Bulletin 22.

Case List * Attorney-General ( Cth ) ; Ex Rel Mckinlay V Commonwealth ( 1975 ) 135 CLR 1 * Commonwealth V Tasmania ( Tasmanian Dams Case ) ( 1983 ) 158 CLR 1 * Jones v Toben [ 2002 ] FCA 1150 [ 69 ] . * Kartinyeri v Commonwealth ( 1988 ) 195 CLR 337 * Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen ( 1982 ) 153 CLR 168 * Kruger V Commonwealth ( 1997 ) 190 CLR 1 * Leak V Commonwealth ( 1997 ) 187 CLR 579. * Miller V Wertheim [ 2002 ] FCAFC 156 [ 14 ] ; * Western Australia V Commonwealth ( Native Title Act Case ) ( 1995 ) 183 CLR 373 * Wurridjal v The Cth ( 2009 ) 237 CLR 309 Legislation List.

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1986 ( Cth ) * Australian Constitution Act 1975 ( Cth ) * Constitution Act 1867 ( Qld ) * Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 ( Cth ) * Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act 1997 ( Cth ) * Native Title Act 1993 ( Cth ) * Native Title ( Queensland ) Act 1993 ( Qld ) * Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 ( Cth ) * Racial Discrimination Act 1975 ( Cth ) * Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 ( Nsw ) ——————————————– [ 1 ] . Law Council of Australia. Constitutional Recognition of Autochthonal Aussies: Discussion Paper March 2011 portion 1.

1 at 23 April 2012. [ 2 ] . Australia. Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution page 1 at 23 April 2012. [ 3 ] . Alexander Ward. ‘At the Risk of Rights: Does True Recognition Require Substantive Reform’ ( 2011 ) 7 Autochthonal Law Bulletin 3. 3. [ 4 ] . Ibid. [ 5 ] . Ibid. [ 6 ] . Australia. Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution page 1 at 23 April 2012.

[ 7 ] . Ibid [ 4 ] . [ 8 ] . Ibid [ 5. 3 ] . [ 9 ] . Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act ( Cth ) s 25. [ 10 ] . B Costa. ‘Odious and Outmoded’ ? Race and Section 25 of the Constitution ( 2011 ) The Swinburne Institute for Social Research page 1 at 25 April 2012. [ 11 ] . Attorney-General ( Cth ) ; Ex Rel Mckinlay V Commonwealth ( 1975 ) 135 CLR 1. [ 36 ] . [ 44 ] . [ 12 ] . B Costa. ‘Odious and Outmoded’ ? Race and Section 25 of the Constitution ( 2011 ) The Swinburne Institute for Social Research page 1 at 25 April 2012. [ 13 ] . Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act ( Cth ) s 24. [ 14 ] . Ibid. [ 15 ] .

Convention Arguments. Melbourne. 1898. pages 665-714. [ 16 ] . B Costa. ‘Odious and Outmoded’ ? Race and Section 25 of the Constitution ( 2011 ) The Swinburne Institute for Social Research page 4 at 25 April 2012. [ 17 ] . Australia. Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution page 5. 3 at 23 April 2012. [ 18 ] . B Costa. ‘Odious and Outmoded’ ? Race and Section 25 of the Constitution ( 2011 ) The Swinburne Institute for Social Research page 6 at 25 April 2012.

[ 19 ] . Ibid [ 5 ] . [ 20 ] . Ibid [ 6 ] . [ 21 ] . Ibid [ 5 ] . [ 22 ] . Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act ( Cth ) s 51 ( twenty-six ) . [ 23 ] . Australia. Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution page 5. 4 at 23 April 2012. [ 24 ] . Koowarta 5 Bjelke-Petersen ( 1982 ) 153 CLR 168. [ 25 ] . Ibid [ 169-170 ] . [ 26 ] . Ibid. [ 27 ] . Ibid. [ 28 ] . Ibid [ 174 ] . [ 29 ] . Kartinyeri 5 Commonwealth ( the Hindmarsh Island Bridge instance ) ( 1998 ) 195 CLR 337. [ 30 ] .

Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act 1997 ( Cth ) . [ 31 ] . Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1986 ( Cth ) . [ 32 ] . Ibid. [ 33 ] . Ibid [ 416-7 ] . [ 34 ] . Ibid [ 379-381 ] . [ 35 ] . Thomson Reuters Legal Online. Halsbury’s Laws of Australia ( at 15 January 1998 ) 19 Government. ’19. 5 Federal Constitutional System’ [ 19. 5 – 157. 1 ] [ 36 ] . Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 ( Cth ) . [ 37 ] . ( 1983 ) 158 CLR 1. [ 38 ] . Ibid. [ 39 ] . Ibid [ 5 – 8 ] . [ 40 ] . Native Title Act 1993 ( Cth ) [ 41 ] . Western Australia v The Commonwealth ( 1995 ) 183 CLR 373. [ 42 ] . Ibid.

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