Calling the No vote “racist”, leading Yes campaigner Marcia Langton highlighted the major difference with the 1967 referendum, which passed with 91 percent support.
At the time, Faith Bandler was the leading campaigner for Yes, to allow the Commonwealth to legislate for Aboriginal people and lift the ban on counting them in the census.
This April 1967 referendum passed overwhelmingly with 90.77 percent support, the strongest support for constitutional change since Federation in 1901.
This victory demonstrated the need for bipartisan support, which is lacking in the upcoming Voice referendum, as well as a unifying message of equality.
Only eight of 44 referendums to amend the Constitution have passed since the first vote in 1906, and several opinion polls found that a majority of voters opposed Labor’s vote in Parliament before the referendum. October 14.
Ms Bandler, a South Sea Islander descendant who died in February 2015 aged 96, advocated for change in 1967 by uniting Australians and advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be treated on an equal footing.
At that time, she held a sign that read: “Count us together, make us one people.” »
Leading Yes campaigner Marcia Langton’s denigration of the No affair as “racist” highlighted the major difference with the 1967 referendum which passed with 91 percent support.
Her daughter Lilon Bandler, now an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, remembers standing next to her mother holding this sign at Martin Place in Sydney when she was a child in the 1960s.
“The 1967 referendum got this huge majority, which is incredibly unusual in Australian referendums, which reflects that era,” she said in a 2013 Oxfam video.
“It needed to reflect what our Australian community thought was important, which was getting rid of discriminatory clauses.”
Lilon Bandler said her mother made the Yes case relevant to ordinary Australians.
“It was about raising awareness and taking the time to explain to people why this is important, why should you care, what does this mean to you and why you should actually think that this is important,” she said.
“For Faith, she would talk to anyone: she would talk to people on the street, to people on the train, she would talk to prime ministers, but she would also do this daily work of talking to anyone who would listen. .
“If you don’t engage in discussions about the changes you want to bring about, then you don’t have the groundswell that would support the change. »
The success of the referendum was the result of years of campaigning.
“One understands the length of a campaign and how popular and daily it must be when one thinks of my mother’s work leading up to the 1967 referendum and which lasted for years and years before anyone had heard of of the word referendum.”, said Lilon Bandler.
At the time, Faith Bandler (right) was the leading Yes campaigner to allow the Commonwealth to legislate for indigenous people and lift the ban on counting them in the census. This April 1967 referendum passed overwhelmingly with 90.77 percent support, the strongest support ever for constitutional change since Federation in 1901.
Faith Bandler’s unifying plea contrasted sharply with Professor Langton who this month told a forum in Bunbury, Western Australia, that the no campaign was racist.
“Every time the No side raises their arguments, if you start to dismantle them, you get to base racism – I’m sorry to say that’s where it lands – or sheer stupidity,” he said. she declared.
Professor Langton later retracted the remark and suggested the No campaign was using racist tactics and denied suggesting No voters were racist.
“I’m not racist and I don’t believe the majority of Australians are racist. I believe no campaigners use racist tactics,” she said.
But in July last year, the co-author of the Indigenous Voice co-design process, questioned whether critics of the Voice, including within the opposition Liberal Party, “knew how to read and write” during an interview with the national radio broadcaster Patricia Karvelas.
“I view this request for more details as simply an act of disorder and confusion,” she said.
“I wonder if any of them can write and read, but oh well.
Faith Bandler, co-founder of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, had quietly lobbied Liberal prime ministers Robert Menzies and Harold Holt to hold a referendum on racial equality (she is pictured second from left with Mr. Holt, third from left) with MP. Gordon Bryant, Pastor Doug Nicholls, Burnum Burnum (Harry Penrith), Win Branson and WC Wentworth
Faith Bandler, co-founder of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, quietly lobbied Liberal Prime Ministers Robert Menzies and Harold Holt to hold a referendum on racial equality, at a time when the politics of White Australia was still in force.
A decade after that referendum, Ms Bandler recalled how she and fellow campaigner Kath Walker, later known as Oodgeroo Noonuccal, sat down with Sir Robert, who bought them a drink.
“The six of us, and we hit him for about an hour or two, and then it was over and he said, ‘Come have a drink,'” she told the This Is Your Life host, Roger Climpson, in 1978.
“And Kath said: ‘Mr Prime Minister, you could be jailed for buying me a drink back where I come from.’
“And he became very indignant and remembers he said, ‘I’m the boss here’ and so Kath had a drink and we had the referendum.”
Ms Bandler, a South Sea Islander descendant who died in February 2015 aged 96, advocated for change in 1967 by uniting Australians and advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be treated as equals (she is pictured on the right in 2009 with the then-governor). General Quentin Bryce being appointed Companion of the Order of Australia)