Why Peter Pilt Supports the Recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution.


I fully support the call for the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and related changes. (Picture above is of myself as Senior Pastor of Nowra City Church, praying for Indigenous Australians, represented by those who were Indigenous Australians in Nowra CIty Church at the time). There are two main reasons for my support:.

1) Constitution Change will remove the fact that people can be banned from voting due to their race

“Today Australia prides itself on being a place of fairness. But our Constitution still does not recognize the first Australians. And it still says in Section 25 that the States can ban people from voting based on their race. It’s long past time that we ensure that there is no place for race discrimination in our nation’s highest legal document.” (http://www.recognize.org.au)

To quote the Australian Human Rights Commission

“Removing the discriminatory provisions from our Constitution will have lasting practical affects through the protection of human rights. Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a preamble is largely symbolic, but that does not diminish its importance in any way”. www.humanrights.gov.au

What are the racial references in the Constitution now?

There are two sections of the constitution that mention race. The first, section 25, says that the states can ban people from voting based on their race. The second, section 51(26), gives Parliament power to pass laws that discriminate against people based on their race. They state:

Section 25. For the purposes of the last section, if by the law of any State all persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, then, in reckoning the number of the people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of the race resident in that State shall not be counted.

This is an antiquated, redundant and racist section, which reflects past discrimination against Indigenous peoples’ rights to vote.

Section 51(26). The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to […] the people of any race, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.

This section, the so-called “races power”, has been interpreted by the High Court to allow the federal parliament to make laws that discriminate adversely on the basis of race. Parliament only ever used the races power regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


2) It helps reconciliation between the Indigenous Australians and other Australians

Again quoting the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“Building a nation based on respect for the dignity and humanity of the first peoples of this land will form an integral part of moving towards a reconciled Australia.

“There has never really been a moment in the history of our country where there’s been a formal recognition or acknowledgment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of this country.

Achieving a successful referendum will require a united effort. Australians will need to walk together and talk together in order to create a constitution that truly reflects the heart and soul of the nation. In essence, constitutional reform is about reconciling our past, building a solid foundation for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship and looking ahead to a collective future.” www.humanrights.gov.au

Personally, I don’t support the extent of the calls from the Anglican Church of Brisbane who has called for the following.

                The Anglican Church in Brisbane has called for constitutional recognition of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

                The Church has made a submission to a panel reviewing the issue.

                It recommends changes which would effectively allow Indigenous communities to self-govern.

               The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt says the changes could lead to flow-on benefits including dedicated seats for         Indigenous people in Federal Parliament.

              “We thought this was a great opportunity for the nation to move to the next step in terms of recognizing the contribution the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our nation and our culture,” he said.

My concern is that if the change to the constitution went this far, effectively we create two nations within our nation and so something that should be aimed at uniting our nation, could actually cause further division.

In conclusion, we should remove all racially based powers in the constitution. Additionally, if recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution provided a significant healing step for some of the injustices of the past, and that ultimately it united our nation as we move forward, then I think that would be a good thing for all Australians.

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8 replies

  1. Hi Peter,
    The majority of Aboriginal people do not want to be recognised in the constitution and under the commonwealth or crown. Aboriginal people feel a treaty needs to come first and would rather an all-Indigenous body, elected by Indigenous people, to be able to make representations in Federal Parliament. There is resentment in Indigenous communities because the government has cut vast funds from many Indigenous services meanwhile continuing to boost the Recognise campaign funding (which is also funded by mining companies by the way, surprise surprise)…This campaign makes out that much progress is being made within Indigenous affairs when in fact very little is being made. People need to look further into the recognise campaign before jumping on the bandwagon and thinking it is the next step in reconciliation. We as Australians need to understand that it’s not just about feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ because they want to ‘recognise’ Indigenous Australians. The Recognise campaign is a great opportunity to make Australia feel as if we as a nation are moving forward in the right
    direction, when in actual fact we are not.


  2. When the aboriginal people receive recognition in the Constitution will they finally stop crying poor bugger me? Will they stand on their own feet and catch up with the 21st century and stop crying racism and discrimination? My experience with aboriginal people is they are the most ungrateful, lazy, bigoted and racist people around. Atsic and other organizations have been given bucket loads of money to take care of the aboriginal people for absolutely no benefit to the people themselves. They wanted sorry, they got sorry. ..what for????? What will a mention in the Constitution do? No more than sorry. ..the only way their culture will survive is for them to stand up and be counted for who they are….their kids flock to drugs, petrol sniffing, American gangster crap and the parents are too lazy and full of hate to change their own situation. Mentio in the Constitution won’t change anything.

    • You, Doug Price, are the sort of person that drags all of the good into the gutter..and I’m interested to see if you call yourself a Christian, posting on a Christian blog and all? There are plenty of (in actual fact more) white people that feel sorry for themselves, are lazy, ungrateful, bigoted, drug abusers etc. as stated in your post above. Educate yourself about the issues Aboriginal people face today and the history of abuse before you judge and make your racist and ignorant comments public!

      Do you personally know any Aboriginal people? Sounds to me you have had little interactions or experiences with Aboriginal people and are only judging from the negative media attention. Are you aware that the governments mistreatment of Aboriginal people happened only one or two generation’s ago? The ‘White Australia Policy’ until 1973? Anyone aged over 42 today lived under it. You need to educate yourself on this! You also obviously have NO understanding of trans-generational trauma?! If this affected you, or your mother and father, where do you think you would be today? Where do you think you would be today if your ancestors were denied the opportunity to live with their families, live in loving homes, speak their language, practice their culture, go to school have an education and to be able build their generational wealth?

      In regards to your comment about Aboriginal people “standing on their own two feet” and “catching up with the 21st century”..I suggest your broaden your ‘expertise’ on Aboriginal perspectives and politics and start reading the Indigenous Times and Koori Mail and see what the majority of Aboriginal people are doing, thinking and achieving! The majority of Aboriginal people actually do not want to be recognised in the constitution under the commonwealth or crown. But you should already know this as you seem very knowledgable about Aboriginal people, their thinking and their lifestyle choices!

      How can you also expect Aboriginal people that are disadvantaged to “stand on their own two feet and catch up with the 21st century” when their legitimate grievances have never been addressed? Australia is one of the richest countries in the world and our First Peoples have one of the worst life expectancies on earth; have the highest recorded rates of heart disease on earth (a disease which can be stopped with government investment); still suffer from trachoma, a third world disease eradicated in most third world nations; have the highest suicide and incarceration rates in the world. On top of this lets look at the the massive gaps in education and employment, loss of language, loss of culture, loss of identity and family…and dealing with trans-generational trauma! Ask yourself: If these were my life statistics, how could I just ‘move on and stand on my own two feet’?

      As for your uneducated and ignorant ‘sorry’ comment..you clearly have no idea what that apology even meant! When Aboriginal people were asking you to say sorry, they were asking that we all respect and acknowledge our true history…obviously there are still stupid out here that do not understand that! Let’s also pretend that the policies for which were apologised – for example, forced child removal – are still not continuing today.

      You should feel ashamed that I have had to explain this all to you! Educate yourself about the REAL and underlying problems facing Aboriginal people and then give your constructive criticism or suggestions! Your post is a fine example of white privilege racism! #joke #whiteprivilege #fool #ignorant #uneducated

    • Good on you Doug !
      Now you’re going to cop it from blind “dogooders”
      If they like them so much – let them and live with them for some time !
      Or let them go to Moree NSW 2400 and tale a walk after dark !

  3. If you like them so much – GO AND LIVE WITH THEM FOR A YEAR OR SO !

    • Is this a serious comment? “If you like them so much go live with them for a year”?
      If so then wow. I can’t believe there are ignorant people like you still around! Good on you Kirsty for speaking the truth and standing up for racism & trying to educate people.
      Do you, Tony, personally know any Aboriginal people? You obviously have had little experiences with Aboriginal people & are only judging from what you see in the media. YOU need go live in an Aboriginal community and learn. You will then begin to understand how hard these communities and our Aboriginal Australians have it! Re-read what Kirsty has written above. Get educated!

      • I had experience with Aboriginals !
        On some roads in WA they stopping cars and offering little girls in exchange for alcohol !
        Seen houses built for them by the Army – brand new ! – 6 months later . . . .
        Some Prisoners in jails sometime call them “gime -gime tribe” (Give me ) !
        Want more ???

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