Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Wong. Does the Albanese government support the establishment of a sovereign, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nation in Australia, yes or no?
I think I understand the motivation behind Senator Hanson's question, and you will know of course that the issue of sovereignty is something that First Nations people, including in this place, have asserted very clearly. You would have heard Senator Stewart and others talk about the First Nations not having ceded their sovereignty. But if the question goes to two nations, we are the nation of Australia and what we seek to do, through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, voice, treaty and truth is to deal with the reality of our past, to reconcile and to move forward together through those three processes, mechanisms, reforms—a voice first but also treaty and makarrata.
On that one, I don't feel I really got an answer, whether it was a yes or a no. I understand what you're saying about the Uluru statement. Does the Albanese government consider that all Australians, regardless of race, share sovereignty over Australia and its territories, yes or no?
With respect, Senator Hanson, I understand the motivation behind that question, and I would say to you that I think that the way that is phrased is a question that seeks to divide us. You and I both know we are all Australian citizens, but we do have unfinished business when it comes to our First Nations peoples. We as a country do have a road that we have to walk to bring us together, and I don't believe that road can be walked in good faith if we start to try and divide people in the way I think your question is seeking to do. You're entitled to your views, but what I would say to you is that we are all Australian citizens, some of us come—
Senator Hanson, I think that, in order to ensure equality, governments need to recognise that some people have not been and are not treated equally in great part because of their race. And you only need to look at the history of our First Nations people to recognise that; so, yes, sometimes equality does require that we recognise the way in which race has impacted upon the equality of some of our peoples. I do not think that is a bad thing. I think that is a principle of inclusion, not of separation and not of discrimination, but a principle of inclusion, acceptance and respect.