The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (National Congress) endorses the establishment of a Joint Select Committee on constitutional recognition. We also acknowledge that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 (the Act) is due to sunset on 28th March 2018.
The formation and aims of this committee necessarily must build on the considerable work of the Expert Panel and the Referendum Council before it. Equally important is understanding that if the work of this committee seeks to win the support of all Australians, it will require a level of leadership and political vision to inspire change that can only come about by consensus building and consistent bi-partisan support.
National Congress supports the nominations of both Senator Pat Dodson and Julian Leeser MP as proposed Co-Chairs and looks forward to seeing the Senate pass the necessary legislation to see the Joint Select Committee promptly constituted. National Congress has contacted the offices of both proposed Co-Chairs to express our support and extend the offer of advice where it may be needed.Given the representative and advisory role of National Congress since 2011, our organisation would welcome an ex-officio position on the committee, or at the very least a framework allowing for formal engagement with this committee. This request is in keeping with our past involvement with the Expert Panel, the Referendum Council and our present engagement with COAG.
National Congress can contribute greatly to this committee. As a representative voice of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since 2011, any fruitful discussion on the topics of a proposed voice to parliament and constitutional recognition deserves our input.