Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2022) . . Page.. 3729 ..
While there are similarities with the marriage equality question that was recently posed to the Australian people, there are substantial differences. In his recent Boyer Lecture Noel Pearson provided a raw reflection on the place of Aboriginal people in the hearts and minds of modern Australia, saying:
We are a much unloved people. We are perhaps the ethnic group Australians feel least connected to. We are not popular and we are not personally known to many Australians. Few have met us and a small minority count us as friends. And despite never having met any of us and knowing very little about us other than what is in the media … Australians hold and express strong views about us, the great proportion of which is negative and unfriendly. It has ever been thus. Worse in the past but still true today.
Pearson went on to say:
Unlike same-sex marriage there is not the requisite empathy of love to break through the prejudice, contempt and yes, violence, of the past.
I would note that the violence of today is very real. Mr Pearson continued:
Australians simply do not have Aboriginal people within their circles of family and friendship with whom they can share fellow feeling.
Pearson, in his lecture, used the analogy of a bridge. Australians are being asked through the referendum whether or not to build a bridge to “unite at long last the first peoples of this country with our British institutional inheritance and our multicultural achievement under the Constitution”.
The campaign to convince the Australian people to support the voice to parliament represents an opportunity, not just to secure a historic and overdue constitutional reform but to strengthen and grow the connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and mainstream Australia. This campaign is an opportunity to build the connections between our communities, our families and as individuals. This is an opportunity to learn from each other, to understand each other better and to embed respect and goodwill as the basis of our shared future.
History is calling. I welcome Dr Paterson’s motion and the opportunity once again to put ACT Labor’s support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart on the record. I welcome the opportunity to commit to exploring how we as a government can support the yes campaign, and I look forward to standing together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and activists, at front doors, at shopping centres, at bus and tram stops, and on the phones to make the case for the yes vote.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.41): The Canberra Liberals are open to considering the proposal to establish a First Nations voice to be enshrined in the Constitution. It is incumbent upon the new federal government to put forward details and a clear process by which people can engage with those details. Draft legislation needs to demonstrate how this will work, including who will be on this body, how and by whom they will be chosen, and what the body’s powers and functions will be. This legislation should be released as an exposure draft that is subject to critique before a