Voting rights for Aboriginals and Women

Timeline created by Matt Stretton
  • Franchise Act

    The 1902 Franchise Act gave women a Commonwealth vote but Aborigines and other 'coloured' people were excluded unless entitled under section 41 of the Constitution.
  • Interpreting the Commonwealth rights

    The first Solicitor-General, Sir Robert Garran, interpreted it to give Commonwealth rights only to people who were already State voters in 1902.
  • Interpretation of Section 41

    Garran's interpretation of section 41 was first challenged in 1924, not by an Aborigine but by an Indian who had recently been accepted to vote by Victoria but rejected by the Commonwealth. He went to court and won.
  • Commonwealth officials

    Some of the Commonwealth officials got even tougher. They came to believe that no Aborigines had Commonwealth voting rights.
  • Act passed

    In 1949 the Chifley Labor government passed an Act to confirm that all those who could vote in their States could vote for the Commonwealth.
  • Voting for Aboriginals

    But not much was done to publicise the change and most Aborigines, told for so long that they couldn't vote, continued to believe it.
  • Australia looks at their own behaviour

    In the 1960s moral outrage at the way countries like South Africa and the United States treated their black populations stirred Australians to look at their own behaviour.
  • Aboriginal equal rights

    Western Australia gave them State votes in the same year. Queensland followed in 1965. With that, all Aborigines had full and equal rights.
  • Neville Bonner

    In 1971 the Liberal Party nominated Neville Bonner to fill a vacant seat in the Senate. He was the first Aborigine to sit in any Australian Parliament.
  • Period: to

    Voting in Australia