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August 6, 2015

Constitutional Recognition. The truth is…?

By Pamela Nathan

Re ‘Tony Abbott must rise above politics and act on constitutional recognition’, Editorial, published in ‘The Age’, Wednesday 5th August, 2015.

The Truth Is….

Aboriginal people had no say in the drafting of the Australian Constitution. Remember, Australia was declared “terra nullius”. Are they to have no say today?  Truthful communication is required between Aboriginal people and all Australians. The “truth” of Abbott, the Prime Minister leading Australia, is the denial of Indigenous consultation and the perpetuation of colonialist relations of non-recognition under the guise of “consensus”. Will this truth be the truth for all Australians, or will we take a stand for authentic reciprocal recognition?

Rex Granite, an Aboriginal leader in Alice Springs said; “You do not speak my language”. I don’t imagine many Aboriginal people whose first language is not English or who do not speak English  know the law of the Land, let alone can know or vote on legal technicalities or symbolic change which concerns them, without Aboriginal consultation and negotiation.

A one-sided leadership is a dead end. A one-sided recognition is no recognition at all for all Australians. Are we a Nobody’s Land or can we be a Land of mutually Recognised Peoples? As Hegel said – there is a terrible price to be paid if we negate the desire for recognition, and I add consultation.

As stated in The Age Editorial, quoting Senator Nova Peris: ‘”If we set the history right in this founding document, you don’t lose 200 years. You gain 40,000 years of history.” How can that not be enriching?’.

It also quotes Noel Pearson’s notion that”recognition is a mirror”. “You will recognise yourselves when you recognise the original people of this country. The recognition process is not just a matter of formally recognising us in constitution – it is about putting the mirror in front of your face and finally recognising yourselves as Australian.”

We must consult our Indigenous people if we are to overcome the horribly tarnished identity that has been exposed by the abuse of Adam Goodes.

 

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