Constitutional recognition must remain the ultimate goal

Constitutional recognition must remain the ultimate goal

Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will present an Act of Recognition in Parliament acknowledging the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but says constitutional recognition must remain the ultimate goal.

Commissioner Gooda also welcomed the spirit of bipartisanship that appeared to be present in preparing the Bill and said it was critical that a referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples be held when it had the best chance of succeeding.

“Any efforts along the way to cement bipartisan support and build community commitment for constitutional recognition of our first peoples are to be welcomed,” he said.

“Introduction and passage of this bill will keep the referendum on the agenda, and if there is a unanimous vote to pass this bill, I think that will help garner the broader community support we need to get this over the line,” he said.

“We should consider the proposed sunset clause as the timeframe we should be working towards in which a successful referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be held,” he said.

“However, I’d like to see a commitment that this Bill, and any resulting legislation, does not become the end game and I would hope it does not reduce the growing momentum for a constitutional referendum.”

Mr Gooda said the Expert Panel had already prepared a lot of the groundwork for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and he urged the government to refer to this both in preparing the Bill and ultimately, the referendum question.

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