Murray Wesson: What is the (Australian) Constitution For?

UK Constitutional Law Association

Murray WessonAt some point in the next few years, Australians are likely to vote in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. The exact timing of the referendum is currently unclear, as is the form of the proposed amendment. It seems that, at the very least, Australians will vote on whether to remove s 25 (which envisages that the States may disqualify people from voting on the basis of their race) and s 51(xxvi) (which authorises the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate with respect to ‘the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws’) from the Constitution. The proposed amendment will also include some form of positive recognition of Indigenous people and their cultures, coupled to a grant of law-making power to the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. (For an…

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