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Democrats back second question on preamble

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John Woodley Australian Democrats Indigenous Affairs Spokesperson

Aden Ridgeway Australian Democrats Senator-Elect

Democrats back second question on preamble The Democrats have announced their support for a second question in the referendum on the republic, regarding recognition of indigenous people in a Constitutional preamble.

Democrats’ Indigenous Affairs Spokesman, Senator John Woodley, said the partyroom also expressed a strong preference for traditional ownership, as well as occupancy or custodianship, to be recognised in the preamble.

“Merely recognising ‘occupancy’ gives an impression that indigenous people were just looking after Australia until the white settlers came along,” he said.

Senator Woodley said he was disappointed at Labor’s failure to back a second question in the referendum.

“It is fruitless to become a republic if we still have unfinished business such as the omission of indigenous people from the Constitution since 1901.

“It is spurious to say we should delay asking the question because voters can't consider two questions.

“History shows that many successful referenda contained more than one question.

“The Australian people showed themselves capable of understanding the importance of recognising indigenous people in the 1967 referendum.

“I am also dubious about the argument that we need to write the preamble in time for the referendum. There is no need to have the preamble written to ask a question about it.

“There could be a simple question asking: ‘Do you support a change to the preamble of the Constitution to recognise the ownership of indigenous people?.

Democrats Senator-elect Aden Ridgeway said there was a gaping hole in the Prime Minister’s proposal that only indigenous occupancy be recognised in the preamble.

“This proposal ignores the contemporary fact of indigenous people’s traditional ownership of land as recognised by the High Court in Mabo,” Mr Ridgeway said.

“The preamble must recognise the historical and the contemporary facts of indigenous ownership of land.”

Mr Ridgeway said he favoured the words ‘traditional ownership’ in the preamble, based on the High Court’s definition of traditional ownership of land in the Mabo decision.

CONTACT: Senator Woodley on 0419 025 150 or 02 6277 3728 or 0419 029 728 - Or Aden Ridgeway on 0413 867 951