Page 3725 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022
wounding that continues to this day—these First Nation representatives that came together to deliver the Uluru statement in 2017 were willing to look beyond all of that pain, struggle, trauma and history and turn away from the kinds of conflicts that have plagued and continue to plague so many other places and instead issue an invitation. It was not a declaration of war, not a statement of grievance or vengefulness, not a demand for reparations; it was an invitation. They invited us to join with them in Makarrata, the coming together after a struggle. They want the struggle to be over. “Walk with us,” they said.
I think it is well known that we in the Greens have had some pretty spirited discussions about all of this, but they have been about process, really—which order the steps need to be taken in, which element of truth, treaty and voice should come first and whether that order says anything about which element is the most important or which element is most dependent upon another. It is complicated. People disagree. This is not a debate in which people will always see eye to eye. But, in the end, after a constructive process—because I think talking this stuff through and thrashing out these disagreements is constructive and clarifying—our position is that we are not going to assign priorities. Each of the three elements is crucial. We support them all, and they can and should each be pursued concurrently.
We Greens support Dr Paterson’s motion today. At the federal level, the Greens will be supporting the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in our Constitution—preferably to be held next year or, at the latest, by mid-2024. We look forward to seeing equal progress on truth and treaty. I want to urge all governments beyond the ACT, and especially the federal government, to have the courage of your convictions on all of this. We must move forward on all of the elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Those of us who want a country that is just, equitable, inclusive, thoughtful and generous, I believe, outnumber those of us who do not.
On 21 May this year Australians repudiated in historically strong terms a government led by a Prime Minister who claimed there was no mainstream support for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice. There were, of course, many reasons for that repudiation, but one of them was surely the mean-spiritedness of so many of its members during the 11 years the coalition was in power. That mean-spiritedness is exemplified in their straight-out rejection of the Uluru statement when it was first released in 2017.
“Walk with us. Let us come together after the struggle.” That is what the Uluru statement said to the rest of the country. But, no, the Morrison government was not going to do that and neither was the Turnbull government before it. They saw no reason to be humble and to recognise that kindness and connection is required to heal this country. We in the Greens do see the need for those things. We believe that the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a way forward for all of us to heal and to learn.
On 12 June 1988 a very different Prime Minister, a Labor Prime Minister, the Hon Robert James Lee Hawke, made a clear commitment to treaty between the Aboriginal people and the government, on behalf of all of the people of Australia. He expected and hoped that the consultation work to deliver a treaty would happen before the end of the 35th parliament. That is what he said at the time: before the end of the life of