“Ever since John Howard announced at the tail end of the 2007 federal election campaign that, if re-elected, he would work towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the aspiration has been embraced and advanced by subsequent governments of both political persuasions. And each of the past 7 governments has also understood that to pursue a referendum proposal that does not accord with the wishes of the people we seek to recognise would be inconceivable and have zero chance of success.
“I had the privilege of being an observer at the National Convention at Uluru where the statement was endorsed, unanimously by acclamation. The emotion was palpable and I was left in no doubt about the strength of conviction in the outcome.”
In opening the forum, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, quoted from a speech Mark delivered last year to students at Mount Scopus College, where he said:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not given a voice in the debates that led to the drafting of the Australian Constitution, and, as it turned out, the document included two sections that specifically discriminated against them. While neither the current government of Australia nor current generations of non-Indigenous Australians are responsible for past wrongs, we are responsible for recognising the impact of intergenerational trauma. And we should give our First Nations citizens the respect and support to identify and prioritise their own problems, and design and implement their own solutions.”
To read the Minister’s remarks, click here.
To read Mark’s remarks, click here.