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Coalition unequivocally opposed to a Treaty between Aboriginal and other Australians



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Chris MUJSS\ Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

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Chris Miles, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, today said that the Coalition was unequivocally opposed to a Treaty between Aboriginal and other Australians.

Ά Treaty is an agreement between two independent, sovereign

nations.'

' A nation cannot make a Treaty with itself.'

'The Hawke Government's proposal carries the strong implication that Aboriginal Australians represent one sovereign nation and other Australians another nation.'

'Australia is a single sovereign nation. Any attempts by the present Government to undermine'that unity will be vigorously opposed by the Coalition.'

'Australians are one people sharing one land and one future.'

'Now is not a time to look to the past but to the present day needs of Aboriginal people such as health, housing, education and employment. Australia will have a brighter future when these disadvantages are addressed at a practical level.'

'It is now five years since the Hawke Government came to office and all major social indicators for Aborigines have remained virtually static or have deteriorated seriously. In that time the Hawke Government has been merely creating mirages. '

'The Government is long on rhetoric and short on action.'

'A Treaty will open a Pandora's box of legal debate on sovereignty, prior ownership and compensation which will put back the cause of Aboriginal people for decades. The Government must

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give a full legal opinion on the conseguences of the Treaty, the-

recognition of prior ownership and the extent of compensation '

that will inevitably be claimed.' .

'Whilst recognising the special place of the Aboriginal and

Islander people in the Australian nation as the indigenous people

of this land, the Coalition does not believe that this status

g i ves,them special rights as against Australians from other

origins. We are not willing to support the establishment of two

classes of citizens, two classes of Australians.'

Mr Miles said that the dangers are too great for the Government

to even entertain, a proposal for a Treaty. 'As this becomes

.clear, this proposal will be seen for what it is - another case

of the Hawke Government raising expectations beyond what can be '

delivered. Their actions can only erode the trust of the

Aboriginal people and set back prospects for reconciliation.'

'A Treaty will never achieve reconciliation. True reconciliation

can only be achieved when the needs of Aboriginal and Islander

people such as the needs for health, housing, education and

employment have been met. By going down the track of symbolism

and legal uncertainty the Government is diverting the energies of

the Commonwealth from these primary goals.'

CONTACT: Chris Miles (004) 28 2804

AA/88/27.

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