Michelle Lensink

Constitutional Recognition

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation regarding constitutional recognition.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Recognise is the people's movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution. Recognise strives to change the constitution to remove all racial discrimination, protect against the loss of Australia's unique Indigenous culture, and unite all Australians. Not only are our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders not recognised in the constitution, but section 25 allows the state to ban a race from voting and section 51(xxvi) allows the commonwealth government to make negative laws about a race of people.

Earlier this month, over 100 Indigenous representatives passed a motion at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Native Title Conference calling for an official constitutional convention to be held in six months before a final model for recognising Indigenous people in the founding document be settled. My questions for the minister are:

1.Is the minister supporting the Recognise movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution and to remove racial discrimination; and

2.Has the minister advocated on behalf of the South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for change?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:26 :05 ): I thank the honourable member for her very important question. Yes, I am supportive of the Recognise campaign. I have met, not just in my time as minister but before that, with the co-directors of Recognise, Tanya Hosch, who is a South Australian Indigenous woman, and also Tim Gartrell, to talk about the campaign and the recognition of Aboriginal people in our constitution. I think I am having another meeting with the co-directors of Recognise sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I have also been fortunate enough to talk to a whole range of people, including constitutional law experts, on their views. I was fortunate enough to speak to Marcia Langton a couple of weeks ago about her view on the models being put up by Noel Pearson in recognition. I think the federal joint select committee on this topic handed a report down in the last week that had three models that it recommended. At some stage, I think in July, the leaders of the Labor and Liberal Party federally are due to meet to discuss the way forward.

Certainly there is growing momentum for some form of constitutional convention or conventions to discuss the best way forward. Like any constitutional change, there is a very wide range of views about exactly what form words might take to change our constitution, not just for recognition of Aboriginal people but, as the honourable member pointed out, section 25 and 51 and other sections where many see a need for some change.

When the federal joint committee, headed by the Liberals' Ken Wyatt and Labor's Nova Peris met in Adelaide a number of months ago, I spent some time with that committee talking about what South Australia has done. Of course, it was not all that long ago in this chamber that we passed legislation changing our constitution to recognise the first peoples of South Australia. We have traditionally played a leading role and did recently in South Australia, and I think we will continue to do so. Yes, I am a supporter of the Recognise campaign and its aims and ambitions.

 

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