Australia paves way for referendum on indigenous peoples’ rights

Australia paves way for referendum on indigenous peoples’ rights

In October, the referendum will take place in which Australia will vote on the bill entitled “Voice to Parliament”. It is intended to record the right of indigenous peoples to have a say in political decisions affecting them.

Australia has set the date for a historic referendum on the rights of its indigenous people. The vote to recognize Aboriginal people in the country’s constitution has been set for October 14, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday. “On that day, every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring our country together,” said Albanese.

Participation in the referendum is compulsory and the result is binding. If adopted, Indigenous Australians would be included in the constitution for the first time. In addition, the so-called “Voice to Parliament” would give them the right to be consulted on laws affecting their community in the future.

“October 14 is our time. It’s our chance. It’s a moment to bring out the best in our Australian nature,” Prime Minister Albanese said. Indigenous activist and human rights lawyer Megan Davis said of the referendum: “It allows our people to sit at the table.”

Law requires a double majority in the referendum

A double absolute majority is required for the vote to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution. That means not only must more than 50 percent vote “yes” overall, but at least half must vote in favor of the law change in four out of six states.

However, the “Yes” campaign for approval of the referendum is currently lagging behind in the polls. Supporters fear a no vote could tarnish Australia’s reputation in the world. “Voting no closes the door on this chance to move forward,” warned Albanese. “Don’t close the door on the next generation of Indigenous Australians,” he urged.

Supporters of the law believe it is a way to heal the wounds of years of injustice. However, opponents of the law feared that at best it would change nothing and at worst it would create a divided society, as the law favors one group of people over another.

It is estimated that Aboriginal Australians settled the continent at least 60,000 years ago. After the first British settlers arrived in the late 18th century, they were oppressed and discriminated against. In some states and territories, Native Americans did not have the right to vote as late as the 1960s. The 1901 Constitution makes no mention of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Sources: , , AFP

Source: Stern

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