Misstatements: "The Uluru Statement is divisive...it wouldn't pass a referendum...an Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be like a third chamber of Parliament..."
In May 2017, over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians met in Uluru and called for the establishment of a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Australian Constitution and a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to supervise a process of ‘agreement-making’ and ‘truth-telling’ between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In October 2017, the Turnbull Government rejected the 'First Nations Voice' proposal.
Imagine if we had been dispossessed of land we had lived on for 80,000 years, and then told it had never been ours. Imagine if we had been forcibly removed from our parents and denied our culture and spirituality? Imagine if we had been ignored in the Constitution when it was written in 1901, and then had sections of Constitution used to justify policies that have had adverse impacts on our lives and communities?
And then imagine the Government invited us to come up with ideas to change the Constitution to recognise our unique place in Australian history and to better protect our rights, but were then told our ideas were too difficult.
The Government's rejected the proposal for two main reasons:
- The proposal would not be successful at a referendum; and
- It would be seen as a 'third chamber of Parliament'.
The first reason - that the proposal would not get up in a referendum - dismisses the mistreatment and trauma that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced, and continue to experience. It also assumes the Australian people are not prepared to acknowledge these wrongs and be part of the change to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to their rightful and unique place in our nation. Australia prides itself on a fair go for all, and that's exactly why we believe success at any referendum to achieve fairness for the First Australians would be successful.
The Voice to Parliament would also only consider laws under the Race Power and Territories Power in the Constitution - not every law. Any characterisation that it would be seen as a "third chamber of Parliament" is wrong, and again underestimates the Australian people's commitment to achieve a fair go for all.
For more information:
Uluru Statement: A Quick Guide
Why the Government was wrong to reject an Indigenous voice to Parliament
Calls for PM to show 'some courage' in addressing Indigenous recognition