03/08/2015 - Broad Aboriginal support for Pat Dodson and Noel Pearson stance on Constitutional recognition

Michael Mansell has welcomed the position taken by Aboriginal leaders Pat Dodson and Noel Pearson on constitutional recognition. Speaking from the Garma festival in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Pat Dodson and Noel Pearson said they would inform the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, that summits to enable Aboriginal people a say on recognition are vital steps in the process.

Mr Mansell said, “Aboriginal people will rally around the message coming out of Garma. Already Bill Shorten has committed the Labour Party to supporting Aboriginal meetings around the country in order to hear Aboriginal views. It makes sense that the people meant to benefit from constitutional recognition get to say if they want the benefit.

Pat and Noel are talking about alternative models to words of recognition. Pat Dodson and Noel Pearson are calling for entrenching anti-discrimination in the constitution or instilling a formal advisory body in the constitution to comment on the effect that federal legislation may have on Aboriginal people.

There are other models to be considered: a treaty, a new national body to distribute the federal Aboriginal Affairs budget, reviving uniform land rights legislation or designated seats in the Senate. Recognition in a form of words is not the only topic. It is but one proposal to be compared and discussed with these other topics.

At the core of any model for constitutional recognition will be the question, “How will any particular model confer a benefit on Aboriginal people?”

These models must be presented to the Aboriginal summits in concise form so people have plenty of time to digest them.

The APG has 1500 members nationally and believes the attitude of its members is a good indicator of broad Aboriginal opinion.”

Michael Mansell (Pakana)
Aboriginal Provisional Government