NACCHO #AboriginalHealth #Referendum #Treaty : Indigenous leaders play hardball on #recognition

 

“People are being clear-eyed here, we don’t want to forgo history by just taking whatever is on offer, we’re part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century.

We owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nichols, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing.

We want constitutional reform but why go to all the expense of having a referendum just to put poetry in?’’

 Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson and former NACCHO chair 2002-2003

In interview todays Australian Artice 1 Below

“Aboriginal people will not accept a feel-good, symbolic stamp on a fundamentally unfair system,

The system needs to be improved. We need to change the way we do business in Aboriginal affairs. Constitutional recognition must mean real reform. It must create a genuine paradigm shift, or Aboriginal people will reject it,”

Jeremy Clark and Jill Gallagher CEO VACCHO the co-convenors of the latest dialogue, held in Melbourne over three days. Read full report Article 2 below

 ” The question of guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation is especially timely as Australia considers the argument that treaties, rather than a constitutional statement, might provide more substantive political recognition.

However, treaties require that Indigenous people acknowledge the legitimacy of the state. Indigenous people need to determine the conditions under which they might provide that acknowledgement. They may, for example, want a more inclusive state; one that recognises a substantive and meaningful citizenship.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation responds to colonialism’s present as well as its past. Colonisation was not a single event “done” to Indigenous peoples.

Dominic O’Sullivan  Associate Professor, Charles Sturt University Article 3 below

Aboriginal leaders have warned they will campaign against a constitutional recognition referendum if all that is on offer is a so-called minimalist “politicians’ model”, which avoids a treaty and indigenous representation in parliament.

Meeting in Melbourne as part of a national series of community discussions, about 100 Aboriginal leaders and community members agreed there was a view in Canberra that the minimalist model — deleting a reference to race, adjusting another section on race and adding a statement of recognition — was a “done deal”.

They said recent statements by indigenous Liberal minister Ken Wyatt that they should temper­ expectations of what a referendum would produce, and by West Australian Liberal senat­or Dean Smith that treaties needed to be “off the table” for constitutional recognition to occur, had caused great concern.

The boilover came at the seventh­ of 12 meetings to be held ­nationwide, in a process climaxing with a constitutional convention at Uluru in May marking the 50th anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights.

Participants were in agreement that they were prepared to support a “no” case against the referendum, and politicians should not assume they would eventually capitulate and accept minimalism.

However, they insisted they were not talking about shooting down a successful outcome, merely an unsatisfactory one, and said their views were not radical and were broadly representative of indigenous Australia.

Lengthy discussion was had around the fact the delegates, who included traditional owners, elders, chief executives of community organisations, and other “mainstream” indigenous representatives, were ambitious about a positive result but would not be accepting, as one put it, “beads and trinkets”.

“People are being clear-eyed here, we don’t want to forgo history by just taking whatever is on offer, we’re part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century,” Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson told The Australian. “We owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nichols, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing.

“We want constitutional reform but why go to all the expense of having a referendum just to put poetry in?’’

A July 2015 gathering of 40 indigenous leaders at Kirribilli House with Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten resolved that “a minimalist approach … does not go far enough and would not be acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

“We’ve been saying since the 1840s that we wanted substantive change and we said it again at Kirribilli,” Ms Anderson said. “It’s this generation’s turn but it’s got to be for all Australians, not just for us. We need to win the hearts and minds of the Australian public on this because we can’t just pass on a legacy of nothingness — why would we support that?”

The Melbourne gathering was also sharply critical of a perception that the four indigenous federal MPs — Mr Wyatt and Labor’s lower-house MP Linda Burney, and senators Patrick Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy — were token representatives of indigenous people. However, the meeting felt that rather than speaking for indigenous people they spoke for their electorates and the four of them in turn supported a minimalist outcome.

Overwhelming support has emerged at all seven meetings for an indigenous parliamentary “body”, or what Cape York leader Noel Pearson describes as a “hook” that could be inserted in the Constitution, and off which other legislative solutions could be hung. This body would likely be elected, with responsibility for giving parliament input on laws affecting indigenous Australians — input parliament would then be required to consider but which would be non-binding.

It is a solution supported by constitutional conservatives because it is viewed as being possible to create this body without endangering the sovereignty of parliament and without the threat of constant litigation over its powers — for example, whether the laws on which it was consulted were deemed constitutionally safe.

There could also be a statutory Declaration of Recognition drafted outside the Constitution.

A more far-reaching proposal would see the insertion of a prohibition against racial discrimination into the Constitution — a proposal thought unlikely to win wide support.

Treaties, or agreement-making, were backed at the Melbourne meeting, as was expected given the Victorian government is in treaty talks. They were also supported at Hobart, Dubbo, Broome, Darwin, Perth and Sydney.

Following the Uluru meeting the 16-member referendum council is required to report within a month on next steps.

Participants at all the gatherings have addressed the need for the post-Uluru discussion, including whether to hold a referendum at all or whether the desired outcomes can better be achieved through legislative change.

Article 2  :Indigenous Australia’s ‘line in sand’ on recognition: substantial change or nothing

Indigenous Australians have rejected a referendum that offers only minimal recognition in the constitution, insisting they will walk away unless more meaningful change is offered.

They have challenged political leaders to discuss what is emerging as their key proposal, an Indigenous body being recognised in the constitution, or be prepared to leave the recognition challenge to the next generation.

After seven of 12 planned Indigenous-only dialogues, it is clear that a statement recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the nation’s founding document and some “tinkering” with the race power will not win Indigenous support.

“[People] clearly understand they are part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century – and we owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nicholls, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing. There has to be substantial change,” Ms Anderson said.

A 1967 referendum ended the practice of not counting Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the population and gave the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Indigenous people.

Ms Anderson conceded that Indigenous leaders faced a “hard sell” to win the support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other politicians, but added: “Our brief under our terms of reference was to go out and ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people what they want – and this is what’s emerging.”

The nation’s most senior Aboriginal politician, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, recently urged those attending the dialogues to think big but be prepared to accept a judgment by political leaders on what is likely to secure passage of the referendum.

The emphatic view to emerge from the dialogues is that Aboriginal people will oppose anything they consider inadequate and could even mount their own “no” case to minimalist recognition.

Ms Anderson said an Indigenous body recognised in the constitution was emerging as the preferred vehicle to deliver substantial reforms. The Referendum Council has commissioned work on what such a body would look like and this would be produced in coming weeks, she said.

“At the moment it’s just a framework, but people are definitely sold on the idea that we must have some input, locked into the constitution, where we can talk directly to Parliament as equal partners.”

There are five more Indigenous dialogues before an Indigenous constitutional convention at Uluru on the weekend leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum in May.

Mr Clark and Ms Gallagher said the Melbourne dialogue saw healthy debate about sovereignty and treaties, “but one basic fact was clear: our people want real change, not minimalism”.

The concern of many delegates at the dialogues is that politicians have already agreed on a “minimalist model” they consider capable of winning support at a referendum. This would involve removing section 25 of the constitution, which says the states can ban people from voting based on their race; minor change to the race power and the addition of some symbolic words of recognition.

The co-convenors of the Melbourne dialogue said a voice to Parliament, in the form of an Aboriginal body embedded in the constitution, emerged as a strong priority in the discussions.

“This body could consult on laws and policies about our people, to help hold government to account. It could work under and incorporate the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which could be articulated in statement of acknowledgement or a legislated declaration,” they said.

“The body could help drive reforms to enable agreement-making, so that a truth and reconciliation process can be pursued. As delegates pointed out: we can’t have reconciliation without having some truth.”

Mr Wyatt, the first Indigenous person to be elected to the House of Representatives and the first to be appointed to the executive of the Commonwealth government, recently said he was opposed to having an Indigenous body enshrined in the constitution, and did not believe it would be supported by the broader population.

Article 3 : Why guaranteed Indigenous seats in parliament could ease inequality

Dominic O’Sullivan  Associate Professor, Charles Sturt University

Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney says her party is trying to identify and remove structural obstacles to preselection. AAP/Mick Tsikas from the Conversation

New South Wales Greens MP Dawn Walker used her inaugural speech this month to argue for guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation. The argument for designated seats is not a new one. It was considered and rejected by the Carr state government in 1998; Indigenous people would continue to compete for democratic voice like other minority groups.

Walker’s concern is for a secure and “direct [Indigenous] voice in our democracy”. New Zealand’s Indigenous population has had this voice since 1867.

In 2017, New Zealand’s unicameral parliament has seven designated Maori seats. From 1867 to 2017, Maori have almost always had cabinet membership and a recognised capacity to influence policymaking.

In Fiji, guaranteed representation of various kinds occurred between independence in 1970 and the most recent coup in 2006. It is true that it sometimes contributed to political unrest. However, the present regime’s extreme of no guaranteed Indigenous representation at all is among the variables helping to create Fiji’s seemingly irresolvable political instability.

In Norway, there is a distinctive Sami parliament. Its consultation agreement with the national parliament recognises the particular character of indigenous people’s citizenship. It does not eliminate political differences with the state, but it does provide a path to agreement on most of the 40 to 50 legislative measures on which it facilitates consultation each year.

The question of guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation is especially timely as Australia considers the argument that treaties, rather than a constitutional statement, might provide more substantive political recognition.

However, treaties require that Indigenous people acknowledge the legitimacy of the state. Indigenous people need to determine the conditions under which they might provide that acknowledgement. They may, for example, want a more inclusive state; one that recognises a substantive and meaningful citizenship.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation responds to colonialism’s present as well as its past. Colonisation was not a single event “done” to Indigenous peoples. It is a political system under which justice cannot occur and its essential rationale is exclusive. Designated seats in parliament are a step towards inclusivity.

Treaties look to a post-colonial future. They require societies to describe in real terms, not just in the abstract, what a fair and reasonable political community would entail. They presume Indigenous voice. They require recognition that colonialism gives Indigenous peoples a shared and distinctive political history; a voice that cannot always be effectively expressed by other people.

The mining lobby’s call for restrictions on native title is a contemporary example. It is a point that concerns Indigenous peoples only because their relationships with the state are uniquely colonial. These are relationships that do not concern other citizens for the same reasons or in the same ways.

Recognising difference allows liberal political communities to extend their concern for individual rights to Indigenous people as much as they extend them to anyone else. Individual identity is shaped by culture and communal relationships.

Governments are increasingly recognising that Indigenous exclusion from the policy process is among the reasons for sustained policy failure. Guaranteed representation reduces the distance between policymakers and the people for whom policy is made.

The argument remains even as Australian political parties are exploring ways of increasing the number of Indigenous people preselected as party candidates. For example, federal Labor MP Linda Burney, who is Indigenous, explains that her party is trying to identify and remove structural obstacles to preselection.

It is a concession to the possibility that racism exists within the party itself. However, parties would also need to set aside the fact that they have no electoral incentive to court Indigenous votes. There are simply not enough of them. Designated seats would create an incentive to compete for Indigenous support.

Australia’s democracy is not well equipped to consider the implications of prior occupancy, culture or colonial legacy. Democratic structure determines whether public decisions are the outcome of an inclusive political process. It determines whether people have had equal opportunities to contribute to decision-making, and it is reasonable to expect Indigenous people to require some benefit in return for recognising the legitimacy of the state.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation is not the only mechanism for ensuring Indigenous political voice. It may not, ultimately, be one that Indigenous Australians choose to pursue. However, it is one that has served New Zealand Maori well for 150 years, and is worth considering in response to John Rawls’ argument that:

The unity of society and the allegiance of its citizens to their common institutions rest not on their espousing one rational conception of the good, but on an agreement as to what is just for free and equal moral persons with different and opposing conceptions of the good

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