ACT Legislative Assembly support for the ‘Voice’
The ACT Legislative Assembly has confirmed its support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. This afternoon the Assembly supported the following motion:
“That this Assembly:
(1) notes the collective support of all state and territory first ministers, through the Council for the Australian Federation, for enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution;
(2) reaffirms its support for enshrining a Voice to Parliament, as one of the key actions sought in the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
(3) recognises that there must also be a commitment to delivery Treaty and Truth, as sought in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and that sovereignty was never ceded; and
(4) calls on the ACT Government to develop a community awareness campaign about the impending referendum on a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament to ensure the Canberra community is informed and engaged with this significant issue prior to the national vote.”
During the debate, an amendment moved by the Leader of the Canberra Liberals, to delete clauses (2) and (3), was defeated.
Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is long overdue, and the establishment of the Voice goes beyond symbolism to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the heart of our democratic institutions.
Last week every State Premier and Territory Chief Minister around Australia – from both sides of politics – came together to in support of a Voice to Parliament, recognising it as an important step towards reconciliation.
The Senior Australian of the Year and Canberran, Professor Tom Calma, spoke about this issue as part of his acceptance speech at the national Australian of the Year Awards late last month.
As he said, “…the referendum is not a choice between improving people’s lives or amending the constitution, we can do both, but it will require bipartisanship, all levels of governments working together, and it must involve those most affected, namely Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
Today’s motion supports the development of an appropriate, factual community awareness campaign in the lead-up to the referendum. The campaign will encourage and support Canberrans to have a clear understanding of what the process of establishing a Voice to Parliament involves and why this is an important issue. For many Canberrans, this will be the first referendum they’ve participated in.
Our hope is for the ACT to record the highest vote in favour of enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the referendum later this year.
– Statement ends –
Andrew Barr, MLA