EDITOR: Member for Lyne David Gillespie has responded to a reader's Letter to the Editor regarding a speech in which he incorrectly referred to the outcomes of the 1967 referendum.
The comments appear in Hansard, which is the official record of parliamentary proceedings, and have been published on his website and in brochures sent to some in the Lyne electorate..
They were that the referendum had the effect of "removing race from the Constitution and giving the right to vote to all Indigenous Australians."
This was not the case.
Dr Gillespie says the error was the result of straying from his notes during the delivery of his speech. His response, and the reader's letter to the Port News, follow.
Dr David Gillespie
"Like all Australians, I will be having a say on Anthony Albanese's Voice Proposal.
"As I said in my speech to Parliament debating the enabling legislation, which also sets out the wording for the Referendum, I could not support it and will not be supporting Mr Albanese's Voice proposal as it has been put forward.
"Had Mr Albanese decoupled the indigenous recognition component and the Voice component, I have no doubt that the vast majority of Australians would have strongly supported indigenous recognition on its own.
"I highlighted some of the advances in Indigenous recognition in my speech noting the various pieces of legislation put forward prior to 1967.
"My original notes had read: The obvious problems were corrected just prior to, and in 1967, by removing certain State laws through a change in the Constitution, and giving the right to vote to all Indigenous Australians, which had been limited, and they were also henceforth counted in the census."
"That particular sentence was delivered a little differently.
"But importantly, the key sentiments about the progress in Indigenous voting and discrimination in that time leading up to referendum were, I believe, still well made."
Letter to the Editor
*Following is the letter received from "Paddy" of Port Macquarie.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia was drafted by a small group of men in suits in the age of Queen Victoria, 133 years ago.
No women were involved, no surfers in boardies, no tradies, no fishos, no Chinese miners, no Pacific Islanders, no First Nations peoples of the colonies, just elite men in suits.
It is not surprising that our Constitution has some content that is not inclusive of the diverse people we are in 2023.
The 1967 Referendum made two modest changes.
It removed a clause that had prevented the Federal Parliament from making specific laws for Australia's Aboriginal natives. It also deleted a section that prevented the inclusion of the number of Aboriginal natives from calculating proportional representation in the Parliament.
There is substantial information available on the websites of the National Archives of Australia and the Australian Parliament House describing this.
Why would the Member for Lyne (Dr David Gillespie) circulate a newsletter to all households in the electorate and publish on his website factually incorrect information on the 1967 Referendum.
- The obvious problems were corrected in 1967, by removing race from the Constitution and giving the right to vote to all Indigenous Australians, which had been limited, and they were also counted in the referenda.
The 1967 Referendum did not remove race from the Constitution and there are remnant references still present today. The Referendum did not give the right to vote to Indigenous Australians. Rather, in 1962, the Menzies Government passed legislation which enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia to enrol to vote.
Understanding our electoral history is vital for informing ourselves in preparation for the 2023 referendum. Does the member for Lyne not value telling us the truth about our constitutional heritage?
*EDITOR: Paddy correctly identified the error in David Gillespie's May 23 address to parliament on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 - Second Reading.
- Also read: Letters to the Editor from Hastings and Camden Haven readers in 2023