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The Australian National University

Excluding Indigenous Australians from 'the people': A Reconsideration of Sections 25 and 127 of the Constitution

Elisa Arcioni (2012) 40 (3)

Until 1967, Indigenous Australians were excluded from being counted as amongst 'the people' in the Australian Constitution, by s 127. That section was deleted by referendum. However, s 25 remains in the Constitution, and allows for the reintroduction of such exclusion. This article is a detailed reconsideration of both sections in light of an understanding of 'the people' as a reference to the constitutional community represented by the Parliament. Exclusion of Indigenous Australians prior to 1967 is considered, highlighting the way in which s 127 operated. Then, the position post-1967 is addressed to show that the deletion of s 127 did not result in equality because s 25 continues to provide for racial exclusion. This article argues that this ongoing possibility of exclusion by s 25 affects the nature of the Australian constitutional community, by indicating that it can be racially discriminatory.

Vol 40, Issue 3, 2012

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