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Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Page: 944

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (17:42): I welcome, the DLP welcomes and I am sure the majority of Australians welcome the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012. I think it is important that we as a nation take the opportunity to listen to Aboriginal Australians and Indigenous Australians to determine the sort—if any—of constitutional recognition necessary and that they be fully involved in this process. I am hopeful that the government will allow for a more transparent and inclusive procedure to determine the course of this process to referendum than was afforded to the communities in the Northern Territory through the Stronger Futures legislation.

In the 1967 referendum, the majority of Australians voted to give Indigenous Australians the right to vote, which they did deserve, do deserve and should have always had. Let us all focus on the future and not on the past. Hopefully, we can not politicise this debate, can stop attributing blame to one another and can just get on with it. We need genuinely inclusive and thoughtful discussion. Actions speak louder than words. We need tangible actions in Indigenous health, education, self-empowerment and employment. I look forward to this legislation and will be providing my contribution in due course on what I believe the final outcome of this process should be. Ultimately, it should be for the good of all Indigenous Australians.

(Quorum formed)