PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia

THE 1967 REFERENDUM

Prime Minister - Howard, John

Media Release - 15 July 1998




















Last night's comments by the leader of One Nation about the 1967


Referendum on aboriginal issues were factually wrong in two important


respects.








She was wrong to say that the 1967 Referendum gave Aboriginal and


Torres Strait Islanders the vote. Their right to vote already existed,


including under State laws. The Referendum gave the Commonwealth concurrent


powers with the States in relation to aboriginal people and put beyond


doubt that indigenous people were finally counted in the census along


with all other Australians.








In other words, the 1967 Referendum was about treating all Australians


equally.








It was not the 1967 Referendum which produced bad indigenous affairs


policies. Those bad policies came from the Hawke and Keating governments.


Not only did their policies permit mal-administration but they also


included a tendency to brand any Coalition critic of their aboriginal


affairs policies as a racist or a bigot.








The present Government has restored proper accountability and credibility


in the area of aboriginal affairs.








It has ensured that funding is used to meet areas of disadvantage


in health, housing, employment and education and not for purposes


of political advocacy.








It was a Coalition Government led by the late Harold Holt and John


McEwen who sponsored the 1967 Referendum which secured the votes of


more than 90% of the Australian people. It represented a proper and


practical gesture towards ensuring that all Australians, irrespective


of their racial background, are treated equally under the laws of


Australia.








15 July 1998