The Ability Of All Citizens To Participate In Politics

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The ability of all citizens to participate in politics is a fundamental right established by international law and implemented within Australia (austliii). This ensures effective and active civic participation within the nation, which Australia, as a democratic country, needs. However, marginalised groups within Australian society face barriers to their civic engagement, attributable to a number of hindering factors often out of their control. This essay aims to examine Ian Macfarlane’s speech “I’ve changed my mind, we picked the wrong date”, and its relation to the national issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander civic participation, or lack thereof, in Australia.

Ian Macfarlane is a former Australian politician with the Liberal
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Macfarlane’s speech is inherently linked to the notion of civic participation within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. In order to holistically understand civil engagement amongst Indigenous Australians, we must first look historically at their place within Australia’s political society. Despite being the nation’s first inhabitants, Indigenous Australians were not granted the right to vote until 1962 when the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918) was amended by the Menzies Government (refernce). Furthermore, Indigenous Australians were not formally recognised within the census, nor was the Commonwealth able to make laws in relation to them, until the successful 1967 referendum which amended sections 51 and 127 of the Constitution (refernce). Whilst this was an important step towards increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political participation, it is still extremely problematic, as it removed all references to Indigenous Australians from the Constitution completely. The Australian Constitution therefore fails to acknowledge history prior to settlement, presenting Australia’s national narrative as beginning with British arrival (refernce). This historical misrepresentation of Aboriginals in the Constitution, which is still highly problematic today, holds the roots of the low levels of civic engagement within the Indigenous community. The overwhelming Indigenous

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