PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia


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