National

Voice, treaty key to indigenous equality

By AAP Newswire

THE PROPOSED PATH TO INDIGENOUS EQUALITY

--

What is the Uluru Statement From The Heart?

* The joint statement was signed by hundreds of indigenous leaders at Uluru during a landmark gathering in May 2017.

* It laid out proposed changes to the constitution to achieve equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

* The leaders rejected the idea of constitutional recognition of indigenous people, instead favouring a voice to parliament, treaty and truth-telling about indigenous history.

* Constitutional recognition alone was considered a tokenistic gesture.

* The statement also includes legal changes to create the Makarrata Commission, which would oversee the process of truth-telling about Australia's history and colonisation, and work towards treaty.

What is a 'voice to parliament'?

* Rather than merely being recognised in the nation's founding document, a voice to parliament would allow indigenous opinions to be heard in decision making.

* The idea is to have an elected advisory body so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians can have a say in the government policies, programs and legislation that affect them.

* The indigenous advisory body would not have the power to determine legislation.

Why are some politicians talking about a third chamber of parliament?

* A cluster of conservative politicians have raised concerns the indigenous voice could become a third chamber of parliament, operating alongside the House of Representatives and the Senate.

* They are concerned shaking up the current two chamber system could impede federal politicians from making decisions on legislation.

* These politicians have promised to push back hard against any moves to enshrine the indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution.

* At the time of the Uluru Statement, then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was unlikely a referendum on a voice to parliament would succeed.

* Scott Morrison has promised to veto any effort to include the voice in the constitution.

* Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says talk of a third chamber is merely "spin" designed to argue against the Uluru Statement.

* He sees the voice to parliament as an avenue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to consult on issues that affect them.

What is the Morrison government proposing?

* To hold a referendum on constitutional recognition - despite Aboriginal leaders rejecting it - within the next three years.

* The national vote would centre on the question of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the nation's first people in the constitution.

* Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt is also committed to a voice to parliament. However, he acknowledges it is unlikely to be enshrined in the constitution.

* Mr Wyatt sees the voice as multi-layered, allowing the voices of individuals, families, communities and indigenous organisations to be heard by government.

Is a treaty still being considered?

* Mr Wyatt says treaties - essentially contracts between indigenous Australians and the government - are a matter for the states.

* Labor administrations in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have made the most progress towards agreements.

* Major issues likely to be pursued are reparations, land rights and self-determination for indigenous people.