One-clause bill of rights loses support

Interesting to see one of the more ardent supporters of constitutional recognition suddenly revise his expectations downwards:

Influential Yawuru leader Patrick Dodson has signalled his willingness to back a referendum proposition without an explicit constitutional ban on racial discrimination, if the newly formed Referendum Council he co-chairs decides that is in the best interests of the nation.

That’s from this weekend’s Australian. You might recall that Dodson (and others) exclaimed in August that this was a non-negotiable imperative. So that a leader is willing to drop a ‘one-clause bill of rights’ is certainly a good sign. However, any referendum option that inserts more race into the Constitution should still be rejected. As my colleague Simon Breheny explains in the same article:

However, it would be unlikely to appease the Institute of Public Affairs, which wants the Constitution to be “colour blind” and reacted to the Referendum Council’s creation by launching a new campaign website.

“Any constitutional proposal that divides Australians according to race, ethnic background or skin colour will be rejected,” said the IPA’s Simon Breheny.

“The two sections which refer to race should be deleted, and nothing new should be added.”


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