Today’s introduction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill into Parliament is an opportunity to build on the political consensus towards a referendum in the next term of government, Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous Rights Policy Advisor Andrew Meehan said the Bill, and the establishment of a Joint Select Committee, was a welcome move that would allow both major parties to work together towards a referendum in the next parliamentary term.
“This Bill is an important step forward on Australia’s journey towards recognising the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our nation’s founding document,” Mr Meehan said.
“It’s good to see reference to the work of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Bill, as this needs to be the starting point for Committee considerations.
“Importantly, the Bill does not restrict the scope of what proposals on Constitutional recognition might be taken to a referendum.”
Mr Meehan said unanimous support for the Bill would demonstrate the Parliament’s commitment to building the national consensus needed for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our constitution.
“It’s heartening to see that some real bi-partisan support has been emerging on this issue,” he said.
Mr Meehan said recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution would bring Australia’s Constitution up to date and reflected the views of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.
“Changing the Constitution is a way all Australians can unite to acknowledge our history and the great contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.
Oxfam Australia has supported opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to exercise their rights to basic social services, sustainable livelihoods, a strong voice and cultural diversity, for more than 30 years.
By addressing the exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the nation’s founding document, Constitutional recognition has the potential to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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