Without bi-partisan support, it was doomed to fail


No referendum has ever been passed by the Australian people without bi-partisan support.

We have rejected (referendums) for a. Recognition of Local Government, b. No State Acquisitions without Compensation and c. Making Trial by Jury a Right.

So why did the Prime Minister spend $400 million and split the country when there was no real hope of success?

Why did he comply with demands of the Uluru proponents that there be no change to the proposal that might have made it more likely that the opposition would agree?

If there was no agreement it would fail.

Realistically it was unlikely that the opposition would agree (They opposed the three examples above).

But if an effort had been made, and failed, the best course for the country would be to call off the proposal and settle for a legislated voice.

Mr Albanese says he continued because he promised.

Perhaps the promise was the problem as he tried to get votes.

The proposal was not a minor change.

It set up, permanently, a constitutional entity that was based entirely on race.

Race is already a part of our constitution, unfortunately.

The Commonwealth has limited powers – there is a list.

Everything that is not on that list is a state responsibility and the Commonwealth cannot legislate on matters not listed .

Section 51 (xxvi) gives the power to make laws with respect to the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.

It is this power that enabled the parliament to make special laws about land rights for First Nations people that extended and simplified rights granted by the High Court (Mabo and Wik).

So the constitution and the High Court recognise Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders as a race and it is ridiculous to argue that another proposed part of the constitution about Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is not about race.

It is thus strange that some who sort this division on the basis of race argued that the No side was racist and divisive.

Nothing much has been gained from the debate and money and effort spent.

Except that, once again, we lined up peacefully to vote.

Once again the remarkable people who really care about the country worked on their respective campaigns and then handed out cards to try to improve the country.

We all owe both sides our thanks and congratulations to the Australian Electoral Commission and their workers.

If you don’t know how lucky we are – watch the TV!

– Reg Lawler