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Australia doubles down on colonization via a referendum – The Hill Times

October 16, 2023

Indigenous Peoples in Australia and Canada share the experience of colonization: the majority making laws over the minority.

OTTAWA—On Oct. 14, Australia voted on a referendum to include a Voice for First Nations to their Parliament and changing their constitution. Australia voted against the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples.

Australia and Canada share much in common in terms of the state and Indigenous relations: numerous Indigenous nations, a similar era of stolen children, little inclusion in political decision-making until very recently, poor health outcomes, and experiences of racism. We share the experience of colonization: the majority making laws over the minority.

The referendum asked if Australians support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, a resourced group who could speak to Parliament directly on matters relating to them, though without the power of veto. The group would be selected by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders themselves.

There has been much furore over it. Some white Australians argued strenuously against it, with some of the same old arguments that it would give “rights-plus” to First Nations, that it would complicate law-making without addressing the root issues of poverty, and more. Some First Nations argued that the proposal didn’t go far enough, and may even undermine their rights recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Some questioned why Indigenous Peoples would even want to be part of a colonial system.

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