My principal comment about the 1967 Referendum is that 10% …

Comment on How did Alice Springs respond to the 1967 referendum? by Ted Egan.

My principal comment about the 1967 Referendum is that 10% of Australia voted “NO”.
The issues were nothing to do with voting rights or drinking rights, as is commonly believed, but the clause “Aboriginal natives shall not be counted” was to be repealed and the power to make (favourable) laws in respect of First Australians was to be established.
Over and above these specific issues, the basic mindset of voters was: “Do you consider Aboriginals to be human beings?” and (applause) 90% voted “YES”.
But the 10% NO vote came from predictable areas where there was a history of sad, bad race relations: Walgett, Gnowangerup, Roebourne, Port Augusta etc.
I recall that in the NT at that time there was anger that we were denied a vote but also I felt that the overall NT mood was that we, too, were thereby denied the opportunity to vote “NO”.
There were strident “NO” demos in Alice Springs. Remember that those were the days when the very words “land rights” started many a blue in many NT pubs.
So we are perhaps not as squeaky clean as we like to believe.

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