The Australian Greens have welcomed the passage of the Act of Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through the Senate today.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, said today the Act is an important step towards a Referendum on Constitutional Recognition, but emphasised the need for politicians and the community to continue working hard towards this goal.
“I am pleased that the Act has passed and that Parliament has taken this important step. MPs and Senators now need to show leadership in the ongoing discussion of Constitutional Recognition,” said Senator Siewert following today’s vote.
“The Act recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait People as the first occupants of Australia and acknowledges their continuing relationship with their traditional lands and waters, their language, culture, and heritage.
“However, it is important to remember that this Act doesn't lock the Government into any action, but has a Sunset clause of two years in order to provide for a reconsideration of the readiness of Australia for a referendum. It is essential that we build enough support for a referendum in the next two years.
“The Greens have once again played a major role in driving change, as have the amazing community organisations such as Recognise who continue to be essential to the success of this campaign. Without all the hard work undertaken so far, the path towards a Referendum would have been something talked about, but not acted upon.
“Now it is time for politicians and the Australian people to demonstrate that they are ready to vote yes, by getting behind the recommendations of the Expert Panel and continuing to support this important campaign.
“The Australian Greens are committed to ensuring that the process from here is one which sets us on the best possible path towards a ‘yes’ vote when the referendum is held,” Senator Siewert concluded.
Senator Rachel Siewert was a member of the Expert Panel which provided advice to the Prime Minister on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and now sits on the newly established Joint Select Committee, which is tasked with building on the work already undertaken to develop cross-party political momentum in favour of Constitutional Recognition and improve understanding and awareness of this issue in the wider community.