A petition supporting a referendum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the removal of racism from the Constitution has been tabled in the House of Representatives.
The principal petitioner Norman Miller, who is chairman of the Centre for International Reconciliation and Peace, presented a giant boomerang with hundreds of signatures to the Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop (Mackellar, NSW).
Mr Miller also presented the petition signed by more 2000 people to the House’s first Indigenous member, Ken Wyatt (Hasluck, WA), who is the chair of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
“My aim has been one of public education, raising community awareness and support and keeping the issue before government, bolstering its political will in this matter,” Mr Miller said.
“While getting signatures for this petition, I have met people from all walks of life, Indigenous and non-Indigenous and found that there is little knowledge of this issue on the street and I have been able to discuss the issues to gain broad support.
“I have a strong desire to see justice done and I believe that the Australian people, at core, have a belief in a fair go for all.”
The petition supported the recommendations of the Expert Panel on the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and asks the House of Representatives to educate the nation about the need for constitutional change. It calls for a referendum to remove sections 25 and 51 of the Constitution, which can be used to pass laws to discriminate against people based on their race. The petition wants a new section 51A to recognize the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to preserve the government’s ability to pass laws for the benefit of Indigenous peoples.
The petition also wants new sections to ban racial discrimination by government and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as this country’s first, while confirming that English is now Australia's national language.