At a press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister implied that only a Coalition government could secure a change to the Constitution recognising Indigenous Australians:
The indigenous people of this country are different from anybody else because they were here first and they have a very special place and I think we have an opportunity to honour that place in a respectful, symbolic fashion by putting something in the Constitution. But you won’t do that unless you are able to unite conservative Australia with the rest of the country and conservative Australia will not vote for something that is built on shame and repudiation.
The SMH reported it more strongly: ‘”I don’t believe Labor could unite conservative and progressive Australia on this issue,” he said.’
Certainly, the record of Constitutional referendums that don’t have bipartisan support is a dismal one. And it is Coalition supporters that are least sympathetic to traditional Aboriginal politics. A Newspoll in 2000 on an apology found that while 60% of Labor voters favoured an apology, only 22% of Coalition voters were in support. The 2004 Australian Election Survey found that 60% of Liberal identifiers thought that land rights had gone too far, compared to 30% of Labor identifiers.
The relationship between voters’ partisan loyalties and their views on issues is, however, not straightforward. Continue reading “Can only a Coalition government deliver Constitutional Reconciliation?”