Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Digger J Jones

I finished Digger J Jones (by Richard Frankland, Scholastic) on the weekend - and I reckon everybody should read this,, adult or child, and it should be in every school and public library. For the originality of the voice among other things. The book's set in 1967 and it's about the referendum. Here's the Wikpedia entry, which is worth quoting in full:

The referendum of 27 May 1967 approved two amendments to the Australian constitution relating to Indigenous Australians. Technically it was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) 1967, which after being approved in the referendum became law on the 10th August of the same year.
The amendment was overwhelmingly endorsed, winning 90.77 per cent of voters and carrying all six states. It was put to the electorate on the same day as a referendum on the composition of parliament, which was rejected.
The referendum removed two sections from the Constitution.
The first was a phrase in Section 51 (xxvi) which stated that the Federal Government had the power to make laws with respect to "the people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws." (This is known as the "race power.") The referendum removed the phrase "other than the Aboriginal race in any State," giving the Commonwealth the power to make laws specifically to benefit Aboriginal people.
The second was Section 127, which said: "In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted." The referendum deleted this section from the Constitution. This section should be read in conjunction with Section 24 and Section 51(xi). The section related to calculating the population of the states and territories for the purpose of allocating seats in Parliament and per capita Commonwealth grants. The context of its introduction was prevent Queensland and Western Australia using their large Aboriginal populations to gain extra seats or extra funds. The 'statistics' power in Section 51(xi) allowed the Commonwealth to collect information on Aboriginal people.
It is frequently stated that the 1967 referendum gave Aboriginal people Australian citizenship and that it gave them the right to vote in federal elections. Neither of these statements is correct. Aboriginal people became Australian citizens in 1948, when a separate Australian citizenship was created for the first time (before that time all Australians were "British subjects"). Aboriginal people from Queensland and Western Australia gained the vote in Commonwealth territories in 1962. However, the Commonwealth voting right of Aborigines from other states was confirmed by a Commonwealth Act in 1949 (the constitution already gave them that right but it was often interpreted differently prior to 1949). They got the vote in WA state election in 1962 and Queensland state election in 1965.

And here's the link to Richard's website: http://www.goldenseahorse.com.au/ http://www.goldenseahorse.com.au/

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