Friday, 29 May 2009
So not reconciled yet brudder
In 1967 a referendum attempted to repeal Section 127 of our Constitution which precluded the Commonwealth Government from passing laws affecting the Aboriginal peoples of Australia; specifically excluded them - "except the Aboriginal people in any state". It was so deliberate ... bastards ...
Pressure had been building for this change since Federation in 1901 but was hurried along by: the First Day of Mourning in 1938 - more symbolic than anything; the repeal of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1962 thereby giving Aborigines the right to vote; and, the Wave Hill strike by the Gurindji people in 1966 together with their land rights claim. The 1967 Referendum was passed by an overwhelming 90% of the population. Although I was 19 at that time, the voting age was 21 until changed by the Whitlam Labor government in March 1973. Bastards ... not Whitlam ... the other lot.
Each year Reconciliation Week is held between 27 May and 3 June to commemorate this milestone and another equally ground-breaking event.
3 June is the anniversary of the High Court’s handing down in 1992 of the judgement made on the Mabo case, in which Eddie Mabo argued that Murray Islanders’ rights to their land were not extinguished by the annexation of the islands by the State of Queensland. The Murray Islands are a tiny speck on the map at the tip of Cape York. The Court agreed and ‘terra nulius’ – the idea that the land belonged to noone before the arrival of the British – was abandoned and discussion ensued around the concept of native title.
Neither of these is to be confused with Sorry Day which commemorates the act of apology undertaken by the Rudd Government in February 2008 as an act of contrition to the Stolen Generation in the wake of the Bringing them Home report.
So why the sea of multi-coloured hands?
The Sea of Hands is Australia's largest public art installation and symbolises support for Native Title and Reconciliation. The Sea of Hands was created in 1997 as a physical representation of the Citizen's Statement on Native Title. The hands are in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' flags.
I put my hand up - did you?