Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Message Sticks Carried by Alwyn Doolan
I, and also on behalf of Senator Dodson, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that Mr Alwyn Doolan carried 3 Message Sticks and the aspirations of many First Nations peoples for Treaty, Truth and Self-determination in a meaningful dialogue on a Voice on his 8,500 km journey from Cape York to Hobart to Canberra;
(b) recognises that the Message Sticks symbolise three stages of our country's story:
(i) the creation, dreaming and songlines that have governed our land for over 100,000 years,
(ii) the brutal years of colonisation, forced settlements and stolen generations, and
(iii) the healing to come together for a Makarrata with a Voice to create a new country where First Nations peoples' rights and cultural differences are valued in decision-making and constitutionally protected; and
(c) calls on the Prime Minister to accept the Message Sticks which represent an opportunity to reset the relationship between First Nations peoples and the Parliament.
Left out of this motion is the fact that Mr Doolan's message sticks also call on the federal government to begin treaty negotiations with Indigenous Australians. States and territories are currently in the process of developing treaties, and that process rightly sits with them, not the federal government. He asserts that he would be putting the government on notice by delivering the message sticks and calls on a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament for Indigenous Australians. Minister Wyatt and representatives of the NIAA met with Mr Doolan on behalf of government when he was here in Canberra earlier in the year.
Although makarrata features 15 times in the government's quick guide to what was formerly known as the Uluru statement, I'm informed by the Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders that the term 'makarrata' in the Yolngu people's language in Arnhem Land means 'tribal punishment'. In 2018 the Central Desert communities released a statement rejecting the makarrata on traditional grounds because it belongs to the Top End of the Northern Territory and not Central Australia. It is tribal boundary law that prevents other nations and tribes from adopting this practice without permission or request. In the case of the Anangu people, they reject makarrata and hope that the Parliament of Australia acknowledges that tribal law overrides the call for recognition in the Australian Constitution. One Nation will not be supporting this motion and calls on the Greens to acknowledge that the message stick does not represent all nations and tribes. And I'd like to acknowledge Paddy Uluru's granddaughter in the gallery.