“A growing majority of Australians share the egalitarian belief, fundamental to the Australian way of life, that we are all equal and that race has no place in our constitution,” said Morgan Begg, the Director of the Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.
A poll undertaken in July, by marketing research firm Dynata, asked Australians to agree or disagree with the statement: “All references to race should be removed from Australia’s constitution.”
- 59% agree
- 29% neither agree nor disagree
- Only 12% disagree.
Importantly, this result represents an increase of Australians who want references to race taken out of our constitution. When asked the same question in December 2019, it was found 45% of Australians supported repealing constitutional references to race, whereas 16% disagreed.
Support for removing references to race from the Australian Constitution was strongest among young Australians and was consistent across every state;
- 65% of those aged 18-34 agreed.
- 54% of those aged 35-54 agreed.
- 59% of those aged 55 and over agreed.
A majority of Australians across every state support removing race from Australia’s Constitution;
- 65% of those in Tasmania agreed.
- 64% of those in Victoria agreed.
- 60% of those in New South Wales agreed.
- 57% of those in South Australia agreed.
- 54% of those in Queensland agreed.
- 52% of those in Western Australia agreed.
Australians’ support for the values of equality before the law comes amid the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to hold a referendum to create a race-based voice to parliament in the Australian Constitution.
“Establishing an indigenous-only body in our constitution would permanently divide Australians by race, and on that basis alone the proposed referendum must be shelved,” Mr Begg said.
The remaining two references to race in the constitution are:
- Section 25, a defunct provision which was originally intended to penalise state governments which restricted the right to vote according to a person’s race
- Section 51(xxvi) which allows the government to make race-based law (the races power).
“The egalitarian spirit which drove Australians to vote in 1967 to remove constitutional references to race remains a mainstream Australian value. Race has no place in our constitution,” Mr Begg said.
“It is clear that the more Australians learn about the voice, and how it will divide us by race, the less likely they are to support entrenching it in the constitution.”