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March 5, 2021

MPs urged to honour indigenous statement

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Cape York leader Noel Pearson. (supplied)
Cape York leader Noel Pearson. (supplied)

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson is disappointed some of the nation’s political leaders haven’t paused to honour a landmark agreement to pursue a constitutionally-recognised body to advise parliament on laws relating to Aborigines.
The Uluru Statement, released last week after a three-day indigenous constitutional convention at Yulara in central Australia, calls for a first nation’s voice enshrined in the constitution, a Makarrata or treaty commission and a truth and reconciliation process.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned “conservative” constitutional changes would only proposal was an overreach.
Nationals MP George Christensen says the idea of a separately constituted body was “dangerous to democracy” and he won’t be backing it on the floor of parliament.
However Liberal MP Julian Leeser has called the plan a “big breakthrough” and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion is urging Australians to be “courageous” in listening to it.
Mr Pearson said it was a bit disappointing the consensus statement wasn’t honoured.
‘I think there’s a window here that we can seize, but the political leaders of the country have got to do a lot of catch up,’ he told ABC-TV’s Q&A program.
‘We have been 10 years into this, we’ll be into year 11 if we put it off too much longer.’
Professor Megan Davis, a member of the Referendum Council Aboriginal Constitutional Dialogues, argues Uluru Statement recommends “quite modest” changes.
‘It’s actually quite common in many parts of the world, particularly in western liberal democracies,’ she said.


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