In suggesting the creation of small representative indigenous advisory body in Canberra, amounting, tongue in cheek, to a third house of parliament, I fear I crystallized opposition to the bipartisan proposal initiated in December 2015, for a referendum on formal recognition of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders in the Constitution.
The impetus for advancing this idea was the moving Uluru Convocation Statement “From the Heart”, in which the Uluru delegates called for a First Nation Voice to be established enabling them to have a say in how to address the problems they face.
The posts in this blog rarely attract more than a handful of readers, but enable me to contribute to national debates.
This one, ” A voice and a veto for indigenous Australians? A third house of parliament?” was no exception:
To my surprise however, it drew immediate public attention the next day, the concept of a “Third House” being labelled a step too far. Furthermore, it has been cited as the reason for the Coalition government abandoning their plan to hold a referendum which risks exacerbating the division within the Liberal Party from the conservative right.
I regret this outcome as a missed opportunity to meet the legitimate aspirations of Indigenous Australians. Clearly however, the present parliamentary system will not be changed. But might it not be possible for a representative Indigenous Assembly to be established, perhaps in Alice Springs, in which matters of concern can be debated, and referred as necessary, to the Federal Parliament.
I would hope there will be a continuing national debate on this issue.