House debates

Monday, 21 November 2022

Private Members' Business

First Nations Voice

11:02 am

Photo of Gordon ReidGordon Reid (Robertson, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—At the request of the member for Jagajaga, I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges the commitment of the Government to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full;

(2) recognises the progress made by the Government, particularly the Minister for Indigenous Australians, in preparing for a referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in our Constitution;

(3) notes the important role local leaders, organisations and others will play in engaging with their communities on the referendum and how the Voice to Parliament is a nation-building project; and

(4) commends the interest and engagement of many Australians in progress on the Voice to Parliament, and truth-telling and treaty negotiations across various jurisdictions.

Throughout the election campaign, on election night and during our time in government, the Prime Minister has committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. What this is—what these beautiful and generous words symbolise—is the largest consensus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a proposal for recognition in history. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity: an opportunity to recognise our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters in our Constitution and to ensure the Australian community is truly a place of equity, a place of equality, a place for all. We must all come together as one community to improve and strengthen the quality of life, health and education outcomes for our First Nations communities. If we continue down the same path, we will continue to get more of the same: poor outcomes, unfulfilled potential, widening gaps in health and widening gaps in education.

We need practical measures to address these issues, and that is exactly what the Voice will do. It will give local people, local communities, a say in the areas that will directly affect them. We need to address the injustices of the past. We need to create meaningful structural change to deliver a better future, and this is exactly what the Voice will do. It is our best chance to come together as one, to rise as one and to move into the future as one. Comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Voice will be an advisory body. It will have the capacity to make representations to government on the issues and legislation that affect First Nations communities. The idea? It is so that we have policy tailored to meet the needs of our First Nations people.

There has been no policy proposal that has been subjected to the amount of inquiry, research, consultation and deliberation as the Voice. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have formed referendum working and engagement groups, guiding government and informing procedure on a path forward, ahead of the referendum. Within the budget handed down by the Treasurer only a few months ago, we have committed $50.2 million for the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for this enormous task: the task of a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution of Australia.

The movement to establish the Voice should and must be above politics. This is because the Voice has, and the Voice will, come from the people. This has been years in the making. In 2016, the First Nations Regional Dialogues commenced, so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their voices were at the centre and at the core of the process for recognition: bottom-up, grassroots, community lead. From the dialogues, the experiences and stories were taken to the First Nations Constitutional Convention at Uluru in 2017. The convention endorsed the work of the dialogues and issued the Uluru Statement from the Heart to the Australian people: voice, treaty and truth. Bottom-up, grassroots and community lead. A better future for all.

As a Wurundjeri man residing on the Central Coast in New South Wales, I want to thank the many Australians across our beautiful land—from the sea to the mountain ranges, from the desert to our lush rainforests, from the city to the bush—who have shown interest and support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the establishment of a voice. We have an essential duty to listen to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, brothers and sisters, to hear them and to understand them, so that our light may shine brighter today than it did yesterday. This is an opportunity, this is a time for unity, and this begins by voting for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, because we are stronger together.


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