Since then it’s become clear that the government is divided
on what exactly it’s proposing. Even more depressingly: it doesn’t appear to be proposing any of the actual
recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart
. The statement, for example, does not actually call for “constitutional recognition”; instead it asks for the “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” and a “Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”. None of this, unsurprisingly, appears to be on the government’s agenda.
Indeed, the mere mention of a constitutional voice was quickly slapped down with PM Scott Morrison flatly ruling it out and Barnaby Joyce echoing sentiments previously uttered by Morrison and his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull that an Indigenous voice would constitute a “third chamber” of parliament (it wouldn’t
). Joyce later apologised for this (kind of
Is there any good news?
Yes! The good news is that even though Ken Wyatt ruled out federal leadership on a treaty
there are emerging hopes for state and territory-based agreements across the country. Queensland this week launched “Tracks to Treaty
”, a process that will work towards “negotiating one or more treaties to create a positive shared future”. The state joins Victoria and the Northern Territory which are already well-advanced
in their own treaty processes.
explains how a voice to parliament is a practical move with real-world implications, dismissing criticisms that it would be mere symbolism and identity politics.
Former Canberra Times
editor Jack Waterford
warns that a losing referendum on the Statement from the Heart would be “disastrous” for Indigenous Australians and the prospects of meaningful reconciliation.
And in Meanjin
the excellent Amy McQuire
explores how the centering of “white witnesses” within mainstream media silences Indigenous voices, shapes narratives and is itself a form of violence.