A History of Section 127 of the Commonwealth Constitution

(2016) 42 Mon ULR 206

33 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016

See all articles by Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor

University of Adelaide - School of Law; University of Marburg; RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law

Date Written: November 10, 2016

Abstract

Until 1967, s 127 of the Australian Constitution excluded Aboriginal people from being counted constitutionally. This article demonstrates that it was largely practical problems with counting itinerant or even unknown Aboriginal peoples that lay behind this provision. Sir Samuel Griffith, its drafter, did not think it inconsistent even with voting rights for Aboriginal people. At the same time, a few people in the 1890s appreciated the possible symbolic meaning that could be conveyed by s 127 and objected to it on that basis — such principled resistance should not be forgotten. By the 1960s the practical problem dealt with by s 127 had not quite finally disappeared, but was much smaller than it had been in the 1890s; only s 127’s symbolic meaning was available to contemporaries. It was therefore rightly repealed, but not before it made one final appearance on the stage of Australian electoral politics as part of the background to the rejection of the 1962 federal redistribution.

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Greg, A History of Section 127 of the Commonwealth Constitution (November 10, 2016). (2016) 42 Mon ULR 206, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2867708

Greg Taylor (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

University of Marburg ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 24
Marburg, D-35032
Germany

RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law ( email )

Melbourne
Australia

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