Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Questions without Notice
First Nations Australians
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. On Sunday the Deputy Prime Minister declared:
We have committed to implementing the Uluru Statement in full. That's what we have taken to the Australian people and been our articulated position for a long time.
Does the Deputy Prime Minister stand by this statement?
After a process—which really began under the Howard government—of seeking to recognise our Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, it was actually the Abbott Liberal government which made the very wise call of saying to this nation that the way in which we should recognise Indigenous Australians in our Constitution is by asking Indigenous Australians how they want that to occur. Now, that is something we agreed with. As a result of that, we saw hundreds of meetings of Indigenous Australians around this country, involving thousands of people, which led to the meeting at Uluru in 2017, which gave rise to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Now, at that point, that had been a process which had been bipartisan—bipartisan in the sense that, if you look at those people who held the portfolio for the Liberal Party, they were working on that. Ken Wyatt—no longer a member of the Liberal Party. Julian Leeser, the person appointed by the Leader of the Opposition—
On relevance, it was a very specific question. Does the Deputy Prime Minister stand by their statement about implementing the Uluru statement in full? Treaty, truth, makarrata—is this government still committed to that? That's what the Australian people what to know, and you're refusing to answer.
It led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and those opposite, at that point, were working towards the implementation of that. The current Leader of the Opposition appointed Mr Leeser as his first spokesman for this issue. He was an architect of what ended up being placed to the Australian people in the referendum last weekend. Our government and the Labor Party, along with the Liberal Party, stood by that process and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
In light of what occurred over the course of the weekend we have made clear that we hear the voice of the Australian people and that the pursuit of reconciliation and the pursuit of Closing the Gap are no longer going to be achieved through constitutional reform. But we are completely committed to a process of reconciliation, and we are completely committed to a process of Closing the Gap. We are going to take what Indigenous Australians have said in the aftermath of last weekend, and that is, 'Allow time for the dust to settle.' We will work with them about how we can best, as a nation, achieve the object of Closing the Gap and pursue reconciliation in this nation.