A breach of faith on constitutional reform
The Prime Minister and his government outright rejected the Referendum Council proposal for constitutional reform.
The decision was made without a single meeting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative bodies or other First Nations leaders following the delivery of the Referendum Council Report.
Frankly, it was an extraordinary show of bad faith from a Prime Minister who guaranteed to ‘do things with, rather than do things to’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
After years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in good faith, engaging around the country, and developing a considered proposal for constitution reform, the Prime Minister and his Government have walked away from that promise.
On the 27th of May this year, we heard a powerful and historic statement delivered to the nation through the Uluru Convention Statement from the Heart. It offered a way forward, a way to walk together based on a stronger foundation, yet government silence was palpable. The final Referendum Council Report was met with the same response until last week.
For years ANTaR has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lay the path towards a more reconciled nation. We’ve seen progress in many areas, and in others, much remains to be done.
There is no question that this rejection is a major setback for First Peoples, and the whole nation, but it underscores the importance of standing in support of First Peoples and building the movement.
This is hard, long-term, work but as Dr Martin Luther King said ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’.
ANTaR won’t be walking away from working towards progress, regardless of how long it takes.
Please help sustatin ANTaR’s work. We appreciate all the support we can get.
This Monday, we’re joining with a range of civil society organisations and publishing an Open Statement calling on the Prime Minister to reconsider his government’s position and adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
We are also in discussions with First Peoples’ representatives to ensure that further work on constitutional reform aligns with First People’s views, is strategic, and done in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Like me, I’m sure you were disappointed to hear the news last week, but together we won’t give up.
We will keep you informed of the next steps on this journey, and ways that you might be able to support progress on this issue.