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Aborigines and their place in Politics

For much of their history, Australias major parties did not perceive a need to have Aboriginal affairs policies, but this altered in the 1960s and 1970s as the Aboriginal interest came to occupy a more prominent position. The policies of recent major governments, those being the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Coalition, consisting of the Liberal Party and National Party, have changed drastically since the Federation of Australia. The approaches throughout history of these major parties will be discussed briefly in order to gain an understanding of the foundation of each partys beliefs and platforms in regards to Aborigines. The main political issues facing Aborigines in society today will be identified, and subsequently the main political parties approach and policies will be distinguished in relation to each issue. Finally, recent policies and legislation introduced by the main political parties will be introduced and discussed.From 1937, the approach of all governments was one of assimilation, whereby Aborigines would submit to indoctrination in white ways before taking their place in the general Australian community. However, in time this policy came under intensifying attack on all sides, with critics claiming the policy denied these individuals of their Aboriginal culture, and enforced the notion of the superiority of the white culture. For a time, integration became a policy of the Commonwealth, though it was hard to identify the distinction between assimilation and integration. As attitudes changed, State governments began to amend many of the laws that denied Aborigines equality with whites. In 1967, all parties maintained the proposed Constitutional amendment. Although attitudes had begun to change, little had been done to encroach such altered attitudes in definite government policies. The Labor Party made the most positive pitch for these interests, and at its 1971 Federal Conference, Gough Whitlam led the party int...

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