Australia is the only western nation that does not have a bill guaranteeing its citizens’ rights. Furthermore, the Australian constitution is the only constitution of a first world nation with a colonial history that does not recognise its first people. Therefore, the people whose rights are impacted the most are First Nations peoples, evidenced by the ease with which governments were able to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act three times, each of them arguably having a profound effect on those peoples. Those 3 times being to:
- Amend the Native Title Act
- Enact the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act
- Enable the NTER, The Intervention
In 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, coming from all points of the southern sky, made a statement from the heart seeking constitutional reform and inviting non-Indigenous people to walk forward with them.
"This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?"
It is therefore not open to debate or ajudication but is incumbent upon us all to support this statement and the seeking of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations peoples.
It is not a lot to ask, and is the least we can do