NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the Referendum #Ulurustatement : PM rejects ‘#Indigenousvoice’ to parliament

 ” The Referendum Council said the Voice to Parliament was a “take it or leave it” proposal for the Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

The Council’s proposal for an Indigenous representative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade – largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only.”

Prime Ministers Press Release Response to Referendum Council’s report on Constitutional Recognition see in full Part 3 Below or Download HERE

PM response

“Yet again after a decade of discussions and millions of dollars spent on Constitutional Recognition it is unfortunate we have come to this. We have come to a point where seemingly no action will be taken.”

The Prime Minister already understands that a minimalist approach will not satisfy many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The Uluru Statement Working Group (USWG) is clearly disappointed about the news of the Turnbull Cabinet rejecting the Referendum Council’s blueprint.  says USWG Co-Chair Josephine Crawshaw See full release Part 2

‘The Prime Minister is still committed to recognition within the constitution.

‘We are not at a point of despair, it is a point of opportunity that still prevails and will still exist in options that are available to both the government and the opposition that recognises Aboriginal people as being a part of the history of this nation.’

Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt told Sky News a voice for Indigenous Australians is still feasible within other ways and means

 

” We are pleased to release the Final Report of the Referendum Council, a body established in 2015 to provide guidance on constitutional change to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This is an issue of importance to all Australians, and one that deserves careful and thorough consideration.”

Malcolm Turnbull  and Bill Shorten Joint Press Release (see separate comments below part 2 and 3 ) July 17

Download Here  Referendum_Council_Final_Report

Part 1 Media Coverage ABC

The Prime Minister has dashed hopes for a referendum to establish a new Indigenous advisory body, saying the idea is neither “desirable or capable of winning acceptance”.

The decision has been met by anger among Indigenous people from across the country who endorsed the landmark Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Uluru proposal was rejected at Cabinet five months on from the historic constitutional summit in Central Australia.

The Government has now formally rejected the key recommendation of the Referendum Council — a report it commissioned to consult widely with Indigenous people on constitutional change.

Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday said in a statement a new advisory body “would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament”.

“Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights, all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national Parliament — the House of Representatives and the Senate,” the statement said.

“A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt denied the Government had been cowardly.

“It’s a pragmatic level of thinking about the reality of what will fly with the Australian people and what won’t,” he said.

“That’s a real kick in the guts for the Referendum Council and certainly a slap in the face of those proponents,” shadow assistant minister Pat Dodson said.

Senator Dodson said he hoped the Uluru convention’s other main proposal — for a treaties commission outside of the constitution — was not junked.

He pointed to reports earlier this decade that called for racial sections of the constitution to be removed, along with a statement acknowledging First Peoples.

Senator Dodson co-chaired an expert panel, which in 2012 suggested repealing a section that allows Parliament to make laws for racial groups, and scrapping another part that contemplates excluding specific races from voting.

Timing on Uluru anniversary ‘unfortunate’, Minister concedes

The Government’s announcement it would reject the proposal came on the 32nd anniversary of Uluru being handed over to its traditional owners.

Indigenous Affair Minister Nigel Scullion said the timing was unfortunate and was only because information was leaked to the media.

He said Cabinet had no choice but to block the proposal.

“We know it would have absolutely zero chance of success … the only other alternative would be death by process,” Mr Scullion said.

“I don’t need evidence … we have done a lot of polling, not on this particular is matter, but on other matters.

“Evidence is a long string, I’m not going to point that we do or don’t have. It’s our instincts.”

‘Turnbull has broken our hearts’

Mr Turnbull said he would establish a joint parliamentary committee with the Opposition to examine alternative proposals for constitutional change to benefit Indigenous people.

But the Referendum Council’s Noel Pearson described the decision as devastating for the Indigenous community.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull has broken the First Nations hearts of this country, expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Mr Pearson said.

“He accused John Howard of doing that in 1999 and he has done the same thing in relation to recognition of Indigenous Australians.”

Victoria’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins said the Federal Government had turned its back on Aboriginal people.

“To have gone to the lengths of setting up an advisory council and then totally rejecting what has come forward, it just makes you wonder where their commitment to Aboriginal Australians is,” she said.

Joe Morrison from the Northern Land Council said the Government had taken a step backwards.

“I think the Parliament’s failed the nation in terms of providing the requisite level of leadership here, and I think Prime Minister Turnbull needs to explain himself,” he said.

“The proposal that was created out of Uluru was … a key part but there was also the truth and justice-telling. But they were also laying the foundations for the substantial changes to the constitution.”

Josie Crawshaw, a child protection advocate and a delegate at Uluru, said she was deeply disappointed.

“While our children are languishing in the jails and our communities are poverty-stricken, they’ve just wasted 10 years of a conversation, and tens of millions of dollars, to shelve this,” she said.

Rod Little, co-chairman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been let down once again.”

Part 2 The Uluru Statement Working Group (USWG) is clearly disappointed about the news of the Turnbull Cabinet rejecting the Referendum Councils blueprint.

USWG Co-Chair Josephine Crawshaw expressed a sense of this situation being like ground hog day for the First Nations People. That disappointment is shared by USWG Co-Chair Suzanne Thompson, although Thompson said that “her people were patient people.”

“Yet again,” Crawshaw said “after a decade of discussions and millions of dollars spent on Constitutional Recognition it is unfortunate we have come to this. We have come to a point where seemingly no action will be taken.”

The Prime Minister already understands that a minimalist approach will not satisfy many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Kirribilli Statement made this abundantly clear in past years.

Our aspirations are high, but the Prime Minister appears to believe that the Australian people will not support these aspirations. This is a very unfortunate view for the Prime Minister to hold, particularly when he has the highest platform to inspire all Australians to achieve great things for this country and for all its people.

The Uluru Statement Working Group has a mandate. This mandate came from 250 delegates that participated in a comprehensive series of dialogues around the country. These delegates have entrusted the USWG with ensuring that the government does not overlook what they have asked.

The Referendum Council may have finished it’s task, but the USWG certainly has not. We fight on to ensure that the aspirations in the Uluru Statement from the Heart be progressed. USWG seeks to establish a Makaratta Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

Thompson points out how lopsided many of the current Governments priorities and funding commitments appear to be at present. “When looking at the other big issues, such a Marriage Equality,” Thompson stated, “it seems that considerable time, money and effort can be found by the current government.”

In contrast, a commitment to address the fundamental issue of Constitutional recognition appears to be waning. Worse still, political “leaders” are not taking onboard the ideas and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are being pushed aside, time and time again.

Part 3 Press Release

Prime Minister – The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

Attorney General – Senator The Hon. George Brandis QC

Minister for Indigenous Affairs – Senator The Hon. Nigel Scullion

The Turnbull Government has carefully considered the Referendum Council’s call to amend the Constitution to provide for a national Indigenous representative assembly to constitute a “Voice to Parliament”.

The Government does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.

Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights – all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.

It would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament. The Referendum Council noted the concerns that the proposed body would have insufficient power if its constitutional function was advisory only.

The Referendum Council provided no guidance as to how this new representative assembly would be elected or how the diversity of Indigenous circumstance and experience could be fairly or democratically represented.

Moreover, the Government does not believe such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States.

The Government believes that any proposal for constitutional change should conform to the principles laid down by the 2012 Expert Panel, namely that any proposal should “be capable of being supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians from across the political and social spectrums”.

The Referendum Council said the Voice to Parliament was a “take it or leave it” proposal for the Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

The Council’s proposal for an Indigenous representative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade – largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only.

The challenge remains to find a Constitutional amendment that will succeed, and which does not undermine the universal principles of unity, equality and “one person one vote”.

We have listened to the arguments put forward by proponents of the Voice, and both understand and recognise the desire for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to have a greater say in their own affairs.

We acknowledge the values and the aspirations which lie at the heart of the Uluru Statement. People who ask for a voice feel voiceless or feel like they’re not being heard. We remain committed to finding effective ways to develop stronger local voices and empowerment of local people.

Our goal should be to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians serving in the House and the Senate – members of a Parliament which is elected by all Australians.

The Government has written in response to Mr Shorten’s call for a Joint Select Committee, and have asked that the committee considers the recommendations of the existing bodies of work developed by the Expert Panel (2012), the Joint Select Committee on Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (2015) and the Referendum Council report (2017).

The Coalition continues to aim to work in a bipartisan way to support Constitutional recognition.

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the Referendum #Ulurustatement : PM rejects ‘#Indigenousvoice’ to parliament

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