NSW Upper House supports Constitutional Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, has welcomed the passage of her motion supporting Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by the NSW Legislative Council.

“The passage of the Act of Recognition through the Senate last week was another important step toward Constitutional Recognition, but it is crucial that politicians across all Parliaments and parties help build support for a referendum,” Ms Barham said.

“The Parliament passed an amendment to the NSW Constitution in 2010, and now the upper house has thrown its support behind constitutional change for Australia. I hope the Premier and his Government will work toward ensuring public support for Constitutional Recognition.”

The motion that was passed by the Legislative Council also recognised the contributions of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, along with community organisations such as Recognise, for their work in establishing the path toward a Commonwealth Referendum.

“It is a credit to the dedication of many people and organisations that Indigenous recognition has finally been achieved in the Commonwealth Parliament. The next step is for everyone who supports Constitutional change to make their voice heard,” Ms Barham said.

“I encourage all MPs across our states and territories to seek their Parliament’s expression of support for Constitutional Recognition. A demonstration that our politicians across all parties support a ‘yes’ vote would help to ensure that this referendum would see support as strong as at the Indigenous referendum in 1967.”

“Now is the time for everyone who cares about this issue to make their voice heard. People should contact their elected representatives and ask them to commit their public support to Constitutional change.”

NSW Legislative Council Hansard, 19 March 2013 – Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians:

Motion by the Hon. JAN BARHAM agreed to:

1. That this House notes that:
(a) the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 was passed by the Commonwealth House of Representatives on 13 February 2013 and passed by the Senate on 12 March 2013,
(b) the bill provides parliamentary recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first occupants of Australia, and acknowledges their continuing relationship with their traditional lands and waters and their continuing cultures, languages and heritage,
(c) the bill establishes a process of review of support for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution, and
(d) the bill was passed with multiparty support.

2. That this House:
(a) recognises that the continent and the islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,
(b) acknowledges the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters, and
(c) acknowledges and respects the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

3. That this House acknowledges the work of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and community organisations such as Recognise in establishing the path toward a Referendum on Constitutional Recognition.

4. That this House expresses its support for constitutional change for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution.