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Labor commits to rescuing the reconciliation process.



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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Thursday, 29 August 2002

Labor Commits to Rescuing the Reconciliation Process

Labor today recommitted a future Labor Government to the process of negotiating a national framework for lasting agreements between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Labor cannot initiate such a process from Opposition, but will provide support and community education about the benefits of such a process, and provide a firm commitment to this starting point as a Labor Government.

Any lasting agreement will take time to negotiate and there are principles that have to be decided before this occurs. Both starting and completing such a process will require political leadership and persistence by both Indigenous leaders and Governments to reach consensus.

It is important to remember that while lasting agreements which focus on improvements in living standards like good housing and clean water are critically important, on their own they do not constitute reconciliation or a lasting settlement.

These things are rights that every citizen should enjoy, regardless of their cultural background or where they live. A national framework must provide the tools for economic independence but also social justice.

Dealing with this ‘unfinished business’ will require: • A commitment to ensuring substantive equality of opportunity, rectifying historic but persisting socio-economic disadvantage; • A recognition of the unique status of Indigenous people in Australia; • A recognition of the right to self-determination - control over governance, service

delivery etc.; and • The provision of the necessary tools for self-governance.

Fundamental and lasting change will only be achieved if Governments at all levels are prepared to make a genuine commitment to securing such a change.

Labor joins with the many people who are urging a sea-change in relations and responsibilities, who are urging government to give Indigenous people the chance to take control of their lives, and supports the robust discussions and consultations occurring.

Contact: Jo Fox Ph: (02) 6277 4181 or 0419 963 486