Drive for indigenous recognition knocked off course by treaty demands

Drive for indigenous recognition knocked off course by treaty demands, by Stephen Fitzpatrick.

Constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians has been blindsided by more radical ­demands, with an official forum in Hobart insisting that plans for a referendum must be accompanied by treaty talks.

The gathering, the first of 12 such invite-only indigenous community meetings nationwide, concluded that all delegates were “firmly committed to pursuing treaty” and that this must deal with “among other things, sovereignty, a land and a financial settlement” as well as an agreed time frame. …

The 100-person Hobart summit also resolved that any so-called “minimalist” statement in the Constitution acknowledging the existence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders before ­European settlement “would be unacceptable” unless it was ­accompanied by substantive changes.

These would include the insertion in the Constitution of a racial non-discrimination clause specific to indigenous Australians and the creation of a constitutionally protected indigenous represen­tative body that would be ­“stronger than just an advisory body to parliament”.

There was also discussion of the possibility of creating reserved parliamentary seats…

It’s not about some motherhood statement in the constitution. It’s about a new aboriginal nation, and aboriginal parliament, or apartheid and explicit racism. At least for some.