Page 2476 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017

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Strait Islander children and young people in the child protection and out of home care systems. As Mr Milligan and Mr Rattenbury have both noted, we can do more and we must do more. The ACT government and I, as minister, are absolutely committed to working with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to ensure that that happens.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (12.34), in reply: I would like to thank members for their contributions to this debate today. I hope that the spirit of openness and cooperation that has characterised this discussion will continue through the national conversation on constitutional reform. I will simply conclude my contribution today by reading some of the words of the final report of the Referendum Council. They said:

The window of constitutional opportunity is limited for well-known reasons. The political and electoral challenges facing the promulgation and passage of a Bill of the Commonwealth Parliament to initiate a referendum are considerable. The political and electoral challenges facing the conduct of a referendum are also considerable. Bipartisanship, indeed multi-partisanship, amongst political parties within the parliament and constituencies in the wider community is necessary but not always sufficient for success.

They went on to say:

We believe that the recommendation we have made for enshrining a First People’s Voice in the Constitution will be unifying for the nation, because constitutional inclusion is fundamental to a reconciled future. The symbolic and practical effects of the Voice will enable good measures to flow from future legislation, institutions, agreements and policies.

Our recommendation of an extra-constitutional Declaration will also be unifying. This will give our nation the opportunity to bring together the story of Australia and afford mutual recognition of the three parts of our shared heritage: the First Peoples, the British and the Migrant. It is not possible to recognise First Peoples within the Australian Commonwealth without recognising the whole. That whole includes two other parts, which the proposed Declaration would also encompass.

I will add the final words of the Referendum Council. They said:

Finally, this single, modest and substantive constitutional amendment combined with a unifying extra-constitutional Declaration is capable of attracting the necessary support of the Australian people. Much work and goodwill will need to flow for their achievement, but these reforms are foundational to a better future. It is our Council’s fervent belief that we have before us the best opportunity we are likely to ever have to achieve something profound for our children’s future, that they may live in a reconciled future and be proud of their identity as Australians and feel the gift of all its parts.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.37 to 2.30 pm.

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