Journal article

This is an edited transcript of a talk given to the colloquium at the Whitlam Institute held on the 21st February 2018 on the topic of the title of this address. Here Linda Burney indicates the state of play in the Labor Party's response to the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ at that time including this Party's recommendation to the Government that it establish a Joint Select Committee to enable the Commonwealth Parliament's Response. Such a committee was established: ‘On 19 March 2018, the Parliament agreed that a Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples be appointed to inquire into and report on matters relating to constitutional change’ (Commonwealth of Australia 2018, 2). Linda Burney is a member of the Joint Select Committee that has produced an Interim Report (July 2018), and which is co‐chaired by Senator Patrick Dodson (First Nations Caucus within the Labor Party) and Julian Leeser, a Coalition Government MP.

Key Findings:

  • The Labor Party Indigenous Caucus or Aboriginal Caucus to the First Nations Caucus. Choosing to use the term First Nations instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
  • A lack of media attention to significant First Nations anniversaries such as the 10th Anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations (February 13 2018),and the 10th Closing the Gap Report (February 12 2018).
  • Acknowledging the Cabinet's rejecting the notion of the Voice to the Parliament, and the notion of a Referendum about it.
  • The Labor Party has been writing to the Prime Minister, suggesting that they establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, to be chaired by the Government.
  • The recommendation for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission, which would have the responsibility of truth‐telling, and – this is the most important thing I think – the striking of agreements for treaties ‐ or a treaty across the country.
  • Acknowledging the progress that Australian states are making towards treaties, namely in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales.
  • Burney illustrates the current rate of child removal. Ten years ago, there were 9,000 Aboriginal children in care, at the the time of this speech, there are 17,000 Aboriginal children in care.
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