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Response to Referendum Council's report on Constitutional Recognition



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THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRIME MINISTER

SENATOR THE HON. GEORGE BRANDIS QC ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SENATOR THE HON. NIGEL SCULLION MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday, 26 October 2017

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d*Z***d*µ*Ã¥*v***µ*o*o*'*}*¿***Ã¥*v*u***v*ö**Z***ê******Ã¥***(*µ*o*o*«****}*v*ê*]*****Ã¥******ö*Z***Z***(***Ã¥***v***µ*u***}*µ*v***]*o*[*ê******o*o**ö*}****u***v****ö*Z*** Constitution to provide for a national /*v***]*P***v*}*µ*ê**Ã¥***â*Ã¥***ê***v*ö***ö*]*¿******ê*ê***u***o*«**ö*}****}*v*ê*ö*]*ö*µ*ö*******^s*}*]******ö*}* W***Ã¥*o*]***u***v*ö*_*X

The Government does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.

Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights - all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national Parliament - the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.

It would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament. The Referendum Council noted the concerns that the proposed body would have insufficient power if its constitutional function was advisory only.

The Referendum Council provided no guidance as to how this new representative assembly would be elected or how the diversity of Indigenous circumstance and experience could be fairly or democratically represented.

D*}*Ã¥***}*¿***Ã¥*U**ö*Z***'*}*¿***Ã¥*v*u***v*ö****}***ê**v*}*ö******o*]***¿****ê*µ***Z*****Ã¥*****]*****o****Z***v*P****ö*}**}*µ*Ã¥****}*v*ê*ö*]*ö*µ*ö*]*}*v*[*ê**Ã¥***â*Ã¥***ê***v*ö***ö*]*¿*** institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States.

The Government believes that any proposal for constitutional change should conform to the principles *o***]******}*¡*v****«**ö*Z****Ó*Ï*Ì*Ó***∆*â***Ã¥*ö*W***v***o*U**v***u***o*«**ö*Z***ö****v*«**â*Ã¥*}*â*}*ê***o**ê*Z*}*µ*o****^**********â*****o****}*(******]*v*P**ê*µ*â*â*}*Ã¥*ö********«* an overwhelming majority of Au*ê*ö*Ã¥***o*]***v*ê**(*Ã¥*}*u******Ã¥*}*ê*ê**ö*Z****â*}*o*]*ö*]*****o****v****ê*}***]***o**ê*â*****ö*Ã¥*µ*u*ê*_*X*

d*Z***Z***(***Ã¥***v***µ*u***}*µ*v***]*o**ê***]****ö*Z***s*}*]******ö*}*W***Ã¥*o*]***u***v*ö**¡***ê*****^*ö***l****]*ö**}*Ã¥**o*****¿****]*ö*_**â*Ã¥*}*â*}*ê***o**(*}*Ã¥**ö*Z*** Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

d*Z*****}*µ*v***]*o*[*ê**â*Ã¥*}*â*}*ê***o**(*}*Ã¥****v*/*v***]*P***v*}*µ*ê**Ã¥***â resentative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about Constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade - largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only.

The challenge remains to find a Constitutional amendment that will succeed, and which does not undermine the un*]*¿***Ã¥*ê***o**â*Ã¥*]*v***]*â*o***ê**}*(**µ*v*]*ö*«*U****ã*µ***o*]*ö*«****v****^*}*v****â***Ã¥*ê*}*v**}*v****¿*}*ö***_*X

We have listened to the arguments put forward by proponents of the Voice, and both understand and recognise the desire for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to have a greater say in their own affairs.

We acknowledge the values and the aspirations which lie at the heart of the Uluru Statement. People *¡*Z*}****ê*l**(*}*Ã¥*****¿*}*]******(*****o**¿*}*]*****o***ê*ê**}*Ã¥**(*****o**o*]*l****ö*Z***«*[*Ã¥****v*}*ö******]*v*P**Z*****Ã¥***X*t*** remain committed to finding effective ways to develop stronger local voices and empowerment of local people.

Our goal should be to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians serving in the House and the Senate - members of a Parliament which is elected by all Australians.

d*Z***'*}*¿***Ã¥*v*u***v*ö**Z***ê**¡*Ã¥*]*ö*ö***v**]*v**Ã¥***ê*â*}*v*ê****ö*}*D*Ã¥*^*Z*}*Ã¥*ö***v*[*ê******o*o**(*}*Ã¥****:*}*]*v*ö*^***o*****ö***}*u*u*]*ö*ö*****U****v****Z***¿*** asked that the committee considers the recommendations of the existing bodies of work developed by the Expert Panel (2012), the Joint Select Committee on Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (2015) and the Referendum Council report (2017).

The Coalition continues to aim to work in a bipartisan way to support Constitutional recognition.

Media contacts:

W*å*]*u***D*]*v*]*ê*ö***å*[*ê**}*(*(*]*****W* Press Office, (02) 6277 7744

Attorney-'***v***å***o*[*ê**}*(*(*]*****W* Scott Bolitho, 0477 722 189

Minister for Indigeno*µ*ê***(*(***]*Ã¥*ê*[**}*(*(*]*****W* Brett Chant, 0477 744 614