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
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
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
15 July 1998