Expert Panel To Advise on Constitutional Recognition of First Australians
9 November 2010 at 11:51 am
The Gillard Government is to establish an expert panel to progress the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.
The Prime Minister says the panel is the first step towards this recognition.
Prime Minister Gillard says while the Australian Constitution is the foundation document of the system of government, it fails to recognise the special place of the first Australians.
The expert panel will include Indigenous and community leaders, constitutional experts, and parliamentary members. It will lead a national discussion and broad consultation during 2011 to build consensus on the recognition of Indigenous people in the Constitution.
The Government says the panel will work closely with organisations with expertise and a history of engagement on this issue, including the Australian Human Rights Commission, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and Reconciliation Australia.
The panel will consider how best to progress constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, and provide possible options on the nature of the amendment which could be put to the Australian people at a referendum. Gillard announced a National Referendum on the issue earlier this week.
The PM says she does not under-estimate the challenge of achieving nation-wide consensus.
She says there are diverse community views and only eight of 44 referendums since Federation have been successful. To succeed, the referendum must attract the support of a majority vote nationally, and a majority of votes in a majority of states.
She says the panel will therefore be asked to develop options for constitutional change which will attract broad support from the Australian community.
The Prime Minister has written to the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Greens, and Independent Members and Senators, inviting them to nominate a Parliamentary representative on the expert panel and suggest other panel members.
The expert panel will report to the Government by December next year. Fact sheets with further information on Indigenous constitutional recognition are available at: www.fahcsia.gov.au
People are encouraged to make nominations for representatives for the expert panel by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations are open until 18 November.