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Documents - The Referendum, 1957-67

Flyer advertising the meeting in the Sydney Town Hall at which the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship's petition was launched.

New Deal for Aborigines, flyer

Faith Bandler and Len Fox, The Time Was Ripe: A History of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship (1956-1969), Alternative Publishing Co-operative, Chippendale, 1983

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Petition Aboriginal Australian Fellowship 1957

Petition, Aboriginal Australian Fellowship, 1957

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, MS 9377, State Library of Victoria

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This was the first of many petitions which the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement ran to press for a referendum to get the Federal Government to accept responsibility in Aboriginal affairs.

Petition for a referendum, Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, 1958

Barry Christophers Papers, MS 7992, box 16, National Library of Australia, Canberra

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This form was circulated throughout the country during 1962-1963.

National petition form, entitled 'Towards equal citizenship for Aborigines', 1962

Box 16, 'Petition referendum', Barry Christopher Papers, 1951-1981, MS7992/8, National Library of Australia

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The National Petition for a referendum to change the constitution was launched in October 1962.

The Age reports a goal of 250,000 signatures for the referendum petition

The Age, 2 October 1962

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Page 1 of 2 Gordon Bryant, writing here as the President of the Aborigines Advancement League, Victoria, points out that Aboriginal people are beset with a more complicated set of laws than other Australians.

Gordon Bryant, arguments for a referendum, 1962

Smoke Signals, October 1962

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Page 1 of 2 Shirley Andrews, FCAA research officer, prepared this leaflet for the 1962 national petition campaign.

This leaflet sets out the arguments for amending section 51(xxvi) and deleting section 127

Council for Aboriginal Rights, MS 12913/11/3, State Library of Victoria

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The 1962-63 National Petition campaign aimed to collect 250,000 signatures nation wide. The actual count was approximately 103,000 signatures. This Victorian National Petition Campaign Committee petition argued the case for the referendum.

The case for federal responsibility for Aboriginal affairs

Box 16, 'Petition referendum', Barry Christophers Papers, 1951-1981, MS7992/8, National Library of Australia, Canberra

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Page 1 of 17 Parliamentary debate, Constitution Alteration (Aborigines) Bill 1964. Arthur Calwell, Second reading speech, House of Representatives, 14 May 1964.

Parliamentary debate, Constitution Alteration (Aborigines) Bill 1964

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 14 May 1964, pp. 1902-1918

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Page 1 of 18 (note pages 19-21 are related documents) Confidential for Cabinet, Submission no. 660 Constitutional amendments: sections 24 to 27, 51 (xxvi), 127 Attorney-General Bill Snedden puts the case for the amendment of section 51 (xxvi) and the repeal of section 127 and for these changes to be put at referendum with proposed changes to the number of parliamentarians.

Cabinet Submission 660, 22 February 1965

National Archives of Australia, A5827/1, vol. 20

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Page 1 of 13 (note pages 14-16 are related documents) Confidential for Cabinet, Submission no. 1009 Constitutional amendments: sections 24-27, 127 and 51 (xxvi) Attorney-General Bill Snedden sets out the case for amendment of section 51 (xxvi) of the Australian Constitution.

Cabinet Submission 1009, 23 August 1965

National Archives of Australia, A5827/1, vol. 31

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Page 1 of 8 Frank Engel, General Secretary of the Australian Council of Churches, set out the main arguments for land rights in this pamphlet.

Land Rights of Australian Aborigines, Frank Engel, 1965

Box 11, Folder 12, Gordon Bryant Papers, MS 8256, National Library of Australia

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Page 1 of 6 Parliamentary debates, Constitution Alteration Bill (Parliament) 1965 and Constitution Alteration Bill (Repeal of Section 127) Bill 1965. Robert Menzies, Second Reading speech, House of Representatives, 11 November 1965.

Parliamentary debates, two Constitution Alteration Bills 1965

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 11 November 1965, pp. 2635-2640

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Page 1 of 9 Parliamentary debates, Constitution Alteration (Aborigines) Bill 1966. William Wentworth, Second Reading Speech, House of Representatives, 10 March 1966.

Parliamentary debate, Constitution Alteration (Aborigines) Bill 1966

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 10 March 1966

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This petition was prepared by the Legislative Reform Committee of FCAATSI. It shows the hopes which this committee had for greater Commonwealth involvement in Aboriginal affairs.

Referendum petition, FCAATSI 1966

Barrie Pittock personal papers

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Page 1 of 8 (note pages 9-10 is a related document) Confidential for Cabinet, Submission no. 46 Constitutional amendment: Aborigines Attorney-General Nigel Bowen recommends that the government hold a referendum to 'seek legislative power for the Commonwealth with respect to aborigines' by omitting the words 'other than the aboriginal race in any State' from Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution.

Cabinet Submission No. 46, January 1967

National Archives of Australia, A5842/2, vol. 1, submission 46, decision 1979

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Page 1 of 2 This is the official government argument for a YES vote for the <em>Constitutional Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967</em>.

The government case for YES

A463, 1965/5445, Constitution alteration bills - Procedure in Parliament and referendum, 1967, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Gaining the public support of the churches was crucial at a time when many Australians were influenced by the views of the clergy.

Australian bishops say YES, 1967

Gordon Bryant papers, MS 8256, National Library of Australia

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Political commentator explained that a 'No' vote would be understood overseas as meaning that Australians were opposed to advancing the welfare of Aboriginal people.

'What a "No" vote would mean' by Bruce Grant

The Age, 7 April 1967

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Page 1 of 4 Letter to the Prime Minister from the Public Relations Director, Harold Blair Aboriginal Children's Project, urging him to publicly support the vote YES campaign, 10 May 1967.

Letter to the Prime Minister, 10 May 1967

National Archives of Australia

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Faith Bandler spoke to Melbourne University students urging them to vote for the Aboriginal referendum.

Faith Bandler, New South Wales director of the 'Vote YES for Aborigines' campaign

Courtesy The Sun (Melbourne), 19 May 1967

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Ruby Hammond working to win the support of Adelaide politician, Andrew Jones, for a YES vote on the Aboriginal question.

Aboriginal campaigner, Ruby Hammond, 1967

Series 11, Folder 11 (Box 175), Gordon Bryant Papers, MS 8256, National Library of Australia, Canberra

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Well known and respected Aboriginal leaders such as Bill Onus helped to create positive support for the referendum.

Bill Onus campaigning for a YES vote at the 1967 Referendum

Courtesy Herald and Weekly Times, May 1967

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Produced by the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, a FCAATSI affiliate.

'The rights of the Australian Aborigines AND YOU'

Source: Papers of Gordon Bryant, MS 8256, Box 175, National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-234748811

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This Vote YES poster was authorised by Joe McGinness, President of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Vote YES poster, 1967

Gordon Bryant Papers, 1917-1991, MS 8256/11, Box 175, National Library of Australia

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Images of babies and children were frequently used in the referendum campaign.

Pamphlet, 'Right Wrongs Write YES for Aborigines on May 27'

Box 175, Gordon Bryant Papers, 1917-1991, MS8256/11, National Library of Australia

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Page 1 of 2 Images of children - one white, one black - were commonly used in the pamphlets produced by activist organisations to put the case for a YES vote on the Aboriginal question.

Vote 'YES' for Aborigines

Gordon Bryant Papers, 1917-1991, MS8256/11, Box 175, in folder 'Campaign material - referendum regarding Aboriginal affairs 27.5.67', National Library of Australia

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Once the outcome of the referendum was known, Stan Davey sent a telegram to the Prime Minister assuring him of his support.

Telegram from Stan Davey, General Secretary of FCAATSI to Prime Minister Harold Holt

National Archives of Australia

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This article provides an analysis of the voting patterns by state.

'Aboriginal leaders want swift Federal action'

The Australian, 29 May 1967

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Page 1 of 2 The Minister for Territories Advises

Letter from Charles Barnes to Acting Prime Minister, May 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Letter from Kath Walker to Harold Holt, May 1967

Letter from Kath Walker to Harold Holt, May 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Page 1 of 7 Perkins' Submission on the Aboriginal Question

Letter from Charles Perkins to Harold Holt, June 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Letter from Harold Holt to Kath Walker, June 1967

Letter from Harold Holt to Kath Walker, June 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Page 1 of 2

Letter from William Wentworth to Harold Holt, June 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Letter from Queensland Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister, September 1967

Letter from Queensland Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister, September 1967

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Page 1 of 2 Government silence followed the electors' request that they take more responsibility for Aboriginal Australians leading to Bryant's prompting question.

'After the referendum - what?' asks Gordon Bryant

Smoke Signals, October 1967

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Page 1 of 2 Confidential for Cabinet, Submission No. 88 Aborigines

Cabinet Submission No. 88, post referendum

A1209, 1967/1512, National Archives of Australia, Canberra

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Dr HC 'Nugget' Coombs was appointed to head the new Council for Aboriginal Affairs.

Coombs to head Aboriginal council

The Australian, 3 November 1967

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See also Petitions

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