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Referendum Failure in Australia: New Pathways for Indigenous Peoples?

Referendum Failure in Australia: New Pathways for Indigenous Peoples?

In Australia, a week after the “Voice” referendum, an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament was circulated. Written by indigenous activists and supporters of the “Yes” camp, it ended the week of silence mandated after the “No” victory with more than 60% of the vote.

A special collaboration Charlotte CroulxIn Australia

The rejected referendum proposal would have constitutionally recognized the First People’s Consultative Committee within parliament.

The letter is particularly a state of shock And one sadness In reaction to this failure, in addition A Tsunami of Racism The referendum was skewed towards Indigenous Australians.

Despite the negative result of October 14, this letter shows a desire to continue the establishment the voice For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but this time without taking the constitutional or legislative route.

Continuation of this the voice

Dani Linder is a lawyer and lecturer in law at the University of Queensland.

Photo: Danny Linder

This opinion is not shared by all supporters of the camp YesBut it resonates with Dani Linder, a Bundjalung and Gungarakani woman, lawyer and law lecturer at the University of Queensland, who considers the question. the voice Always has Balance.

She still believes in its agency beyond the Constitution An independent company It will act as a pressure group, drawing comparisons to the Canadian examples of the Assembly of First Nations and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

According to her, A the voice It can also be created by ordinary law as was done in the past. But by not being found in the Australian Constitution, this the voice It will not have the same security or the same role as the one voted on October 14.

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But without recognition in the Constitution, This type of committee has always been withdrawn by conservative governments, which overturned the established law.she mentions.

there the voice The referendum was not actually Australia’s first attempt to form a constituent people’s political advisory body. Since 1973, many the voice National laws were only to be repealed by the government in power.

Anthony Albanese’s government, which is behind the realization of the most recent referendum, wants the dust to settle before announcing the options it will recommend following the October 14 defeat.

However, it appears that in the future more emphasis will be placed on initiatives introduced by Australian states and territories than on a new national process.

Right to self-determination

Sana Nagata.

Sana Nakata is a professor at James Cook University’s Center for Indigenous Education and Research.

Photo: Sana Nakata

Central to the demands of Australia’s First Peoples is their right to self-determination, says Sana Nakata, a Torres Strait Islander and professor at James Cook University’s Center for Indigenous Education and Research.

This right intrinsic As outlined in Sunday’s open letter to Indigenous Australians and the efforts that led up to the referendum and are still ongoing, the prism of treaties, tell the truth or create another. the voice.

In particular, self-determination has been identified as a key factor in allowing First Peoples to improve their socio-economic conditions, says Associate Professor Harry Hobbs of the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney.

According to him, the negotiation of treaties between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is part of this orientation, as it will enable them to recognize them as a political community and agree on continuing obligations and mutual responsibilities.

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Covenants, a panacea?

Australia, unlike Canada and New Zealand, has no history of treaties with its First Peoples. Professor Hobbs explains that this created the situation A legal framework that considers tribal peoples [d’Australie] No rights.

Harry Hobbs

Harry Hobbs, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

Photo: Anna Kucera

The State of Victoria is currently acting as a leader in the steps leading to the negotiation of the Agreements. The country’s first official treaty negotiations are expected to begin next year.

It was this Australian government that created the country’s first de facto commission, the Yuruk Justice Commission, and the Victorian First People’s Assembly, which has an Aboriginal representative body.

In the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the result of the referendum had the effect of slowing down the pace towards negotiating agreements. Indeed, opposition parties in these Australian regional divisions have withdrawn their support for such initiatives.

While treaty negotiations could help recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sovereignty, it is a long, expensive and risky process, says Dani Linder.

Dangerous because, if the government decides to introduce a law that could wipe out decades of work, it will take precedence over an agreement, he observes.

Favorable international environment

Martin Papillon

Martin Papillon is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Montreal.

Photo: University of Montreal

Another avenue that could be considered in addition to treaties is existing foreign support for indigenous peoples’ demands.

The referendum to be held on October 14 should be viewed in this way As a result of international changes in recent yearsMartin Papillon, a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Montreal, explains.

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This event took place in a global context The demands and rights of indigenous peoples are increasingly recognized, he notes. So, despite the recent rejection the voiceProfessor Papillon believes Australia will continue to face external pressure to change its internal policies.

Australia specifically supported the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States. It therefore has international human rights obligations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also addressed the issue when speaking on the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. He said Deeply disappointedBut all Australians are invited to continue the process started by the 2017 Uluru Declaration.

The latter originally provided for a constitutional establishment the voice In Parliament, the Maharatta National Commission was established to oversee the treaty negotiation and truth-telling processes.

In Yolngu language, word Magaratta meaning Confluence of two rivers Indeed and Come together after a struggle, figuratively. Professor Sana Nakata prefers not to reveal it HarmonyShe associates it with a western perspective.

According to him, the philosophy behind this concept allows us to envision a harmonious relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia, One recognizes the differences that remain and remain, while promising more peaceful relations in the future.