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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3390


Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats) (10.34 p.m.) —I move:

At end of bill, page 94, add the following Part:

"PART 32—INSERTION OF PREAMBLE TO THE PRINCIPAL ACT

Insertion of Preamble

  "115. After the title of the Principal Act the following Preamble is inserted:

  `WHEREAS the people of Australia voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution so that

the Parliament of Australia would be able to make special laws for peoples of the aboriginal race;

  AND WHEREAS the people whose descendants are now known as Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders were the inhabitants of Australia before European settlement;

  AND WHEREAS they have been progressively dispossessed of their lands and this dispossession occurred largely without compensation, and successive governments have failed to each a lasting and equitable agreement with Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders concerning the use of their lands;

  AND WHEREAS it is the intention of the people of Australia to make provision for rectification, by such measures as are agreed by the Parliament from time to time, including the measures referred to in this Act, of the consequences of past injustices and to ensure that Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders receive that full recognition within the Australian nation to which history, their prior rights and interests, and their rich and diverse culture, fully entitle them to aspire;

  AND WHEREAS it is also the wish of the people of Australia that there be reached with Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders a real and lasting reconciliation of these matters;

  AND WHEREAS it is the firm objective of the people of Australia that policies be maintained and developed by the Australian Government that will overcome disadvantages of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islander, to facilitate the enjoyment of their culture;

  AND WHEREAS it is appropriate to further the aforementioned objective in a manner that is consistent with the aims of self-management and self-sufficiency for Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders;

  AND WHEREAS it is also appropriate to establish structures to represent Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to ensure maximum participation of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders in the formulation and implementation of programs and to provide them with an effective voice within the Australian Government;

  AND WHEREAS the Parliament to enable Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to increase their economic status, promote their social well-being and improve the provision of community services;

  AND WHEREAS the Australian Government has acted to protect the rights of all of its citizens, and in particular its indigenous peoples, by recognising international standards for the protection of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms through:

  (a)the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other standard-setting instruments such as the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights; and

  (b)the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:'.".

This is an improved version of the preamble which was removed from the original ATSIC bill. Some of the main features of this preamble are that it recognises the role of the Commonwealth government in making special laws for people of Aboriginal race. It talks about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the inhabitants of Australia before European settlement and how they were progressively dispossessed of their lands. It makes mention of real and lasting reconciliation and overcoming the disadvantages of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to facilitate their enjoyment of their culture. It is consistent with the aims of self-management and self-sufficiency. It makes mention of ensuring maximum participation of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders in the formulation and implementation of programs.

  The preamble also makes mention of enabling Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to increase their economic status, to promote their social well-being and to improve the provision of community services. It refers to Australia's international standards for protection of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms through the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other standard setting instruments. I am pleased to move that this preamble, which was not able to be included in the original bill, be included in the amending bill.