1 May 2015 | General Interest
The debate surrounding constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples has been examined by award-winning news and current affairs program Lateline.
The episode, broadcast 15 April, aired amidst the news that Cape York leader Noel Pearson had decided to oppose the views of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians in support of an alternate, compromised series of measures.
As Lateline presenter Tony Jones explains, the debate is not purely a two-sided affair:
“Noel Pearson, arguably the most powerful voice among our Aboriginal leaders, put forward a compromise aimed at saving the push for Indigenous recognition in the Constitution,” says Mr Jones.
“Despite Tony Abbott’s pledge that he would ‘sweat blood’ for recognition, the referendum has stalled and it’s in danger of ending up smouldering on the prime ministerial backburner, along with paid parental leave, corporate tax cuts and other dreams like the mythical budget surplus.
“The Pearson compromise was provoked by opposition from the right; we could say from conservative white lawyers, but they’re not the only opponents. Despite 250,000 people signing up to the Recognise campaign, there’s still no unanimous position among Indigenous Australians.
“An influential minority say they want no part of the white man’s Constitution. Instead, they want sovereignty and a treaty with a government that still represents to them a colonial occupation of their land.”
The program is now available to be viewed online via the Lateline website, with the episode divided into two videos.
The first half of the program follows Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, a man who has handed in his passport and removed himself from Australian laws.
The second half of the program contains a live debate between Tom Calma of Recognise Australia, who is campaigning for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution, and Alice Springs elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, who is calling for sovereignty and self-determination for Indigenous people.