Page 1729 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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Ms Orr: I note that Mr Hanson is having a nice conversation across the chamber. It does make it very hard to hear, when the minister is addressing you, with her back to us, as is appropriate.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, I think you have the cue to be quiet.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: This was, of course, a different model to what was proposed in the Uluru Statement; it was a second best option. Having a voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution will provide all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with autonomy of political expression as a foundation of Australian democracy.

As the only jurisdiction with a democratic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected body to advise and scrutinise government, the ACT is uniquely well placed to share our experience and contribute to this work. I look forward to working in partnership with the new Labor government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and other state and territory governments on how we can advance a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament that meets the needs of diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

MS ORR: Minister, what does the federal Labor government’s commitment to a Makarrata Commission mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT? How does this align with the ACT government’s existing work in this space?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank Ms Orr for the supplementary. The other key element of the Uluru Statement from the Heart was the call for a Makarrata Commission as part of the path to treaty. The new Labor government has also committed to implement the commission. Madam Speaker, Makarrata means the coming together after a struggle.

The Uluru Statement describes the Makarrata Commission as having the remit to facilitate truth telling and oversee treaty or agreement making between government and First Nations peoples.

Treaty is a complex process, the ACT government is committed to supporting traditional owners to undertake a treaty process here in the ACT, should they wish to do so. But there are significant challenges to overcome, to advance this work. We have facilitated some initial conversations, but we know there will be significantly more talking, thinking and healing to be done.

We are, likewise, continuing to work with community leaders on how best to inquire into and address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. We have heard that truth-telling could be an important part of this process but also that many recommendations have already been made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led reviews and that we must act on these recommendations as well. While the time frame for the Makarrata Commission is not

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