The debate on the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution is more about how, than whether, this should occur. The two main proposals involve the use of a preamble. One proposes symbolic recognition in a new constitutional preamble with a clause prohibiting use of the preamble in constitutional interpretation. The other would give Parliament power to make laws with respect to Indigenous Australians, but qualify it in a preamble so that it could only be exercised for their ‘advancement’. This article draws on comparative experience of the use of preambles in other common law countries to challenge the assumptions underlying each proposal.
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