C. List of previous recommendations

Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, 2012

1
That section 25 be repealed.
2
That section 51(xxvi) be repealed.
3
That a new ‘section 51A’ be inserted, along the following lines:
Section 51A Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Recognising that the continent and its islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters;
Respecting the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging the need to secure the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 
The Panel further recommends that the repeal of section 51(xxvi) and the insertion of the new ‘section 51A’ be proposed together.
4
That a new ‘section 116A’ be inserted, along the following lines:
Section 116A Prohibition of racial discrimination
(1) The Commonwealth, a State or a Territory shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic or national origin.
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude the making of laws or measures for the purpose of overcoming disadvantage, ameliorating the effects of past discrimination, or protecting the cultures, languages or heritage of any group.
5
That a new ‘section 127A’ be inserted, along the following lines:
Section 127A Recognition of languages
(1) The national language of the Commonwealth of Australia is English.
(2) The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are the original Australian languages, a part of our national heritage.

Recommendations on the process for the referendum

a.
In the interests of simplicity, there should be a single referendum question in relation to the package of proposals on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples set out in the draft Bill (Chapter 11).
b.
Before making a decision to proceed to a referendum, the Government should consult with the Opposition, the Greens and the independent members of Parliament, and with State and Territory governments and oppositions, in relation to the timing of the referendum and the content of the proposals.
c.
The referendum should only proceed when it is likely to be supported by all major political parties, and a majority of State governments.
d.
The referendum should not be held at the same time as a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government.
e.
Before the referendum is held, there should be a properly resourced public education and awareness program. If necessary, legislative change should occur to allow adequate funding of such a program.
f.
The Government should take steps, including through commitment of adequate financial resources, to maintain the momentum for recognition, including the widespread public support established through the YouMeUnity website, and to educate Australians about the Constitution and the importance of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation Australia could be involved in this process.
g.
If the Government decides to put to referendum a proposal for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples other than the proposals recommended by the Panel, it should consult further with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative organisations to ascertain their views in relation to any such alternative proposal.
h.
Immediately after the Panel’s report is presented to the Prime Minister, copies should be made available to the leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Greens, and the independent members of Parliament. The report should be released publicly as soon as practicable after it is presented to the Prime Minister.

Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2015

1
The committee recommends that each House of Parliament set aside a full day of sitting to debate concurrently the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, with a view to achieving near-unanimous support for and build momentum towards a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
2
The committee recommends that the referendum on constitutional recognition be held when it has the highest chance of success.
3
The committee recommends that section 25 of the Constitution be repealed.
4
The committee recommends the repeal of section 51(xxvi) and the retention of a persons power so that the Commonwealth government may legislate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as per the 1967 referendum result.
5
The committee recommends that the three options, which would retain the persons power, set out as proposed new sections 60A, 80A and 51A & 116A, be considered for referendum.
 
The first option the committee recommends for consideration is its amended proposed new section 51A, and proposed new section 116A, reported as option 1 in the committee's Progress Report:
51A Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Recognising that the continent and its islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters;
Respecting the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
116A Prohibition of racial discrimination
(1) The Commonwealth, a State or a Territory shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic or national origin.
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude the making of laws or measures for the purpose of overcoming disadvantage, ameliorating the effects of past discrimination, or protecting the cultures, languages or heritage of any group;
 
The committee considers that this proposal:
is legally and technically sound;
retains a persons power as per the 1967 referendum result;
contains a special measures provision;
limits the constitutional capacity of the Commonwealth, states and territories to discriminate;
offers a protection for all Australians;
is a broad option;
had the overwhelming support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during the inquiry; and
accords with the recommendation of the Expert Panel.
 
The second option was proposed by Mr Henry Burmester AO QC, Professor Megan Davis and Mr Glenn Ferguson after their consultation process:
CHAPTER IIIA
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Section 80A
(1) Recognising that the continent and its islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters;
Respecting the continuing cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are the original Australian languages and a part of our national heritage;
the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but so as not to discriminate against them.
(2) This section provides the sole power for the Commonwealth to make special laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 
The committee considers that this proposal:
is legally and technically sound;
retains a persons power as per the 1967 referendum result;
is clear in meaning;
limits the capacity of the Commonwealth only with regard to discrimination, so states and territories are not affected by constitutional change;
is a narrow option; and
offers constitutional protection from racial discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 
The third option which would retain the persons power is the proposal from the Public Law and Policy Research Unit at the University of Adelaide:
60A Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Recognising that the continent and its islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters;
Respecting the continuing cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Acknowledging that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are the original Australian languages and a part of our national heritage;
(1) The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
(2) A law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory must not discriminate adversely against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 
The committee considers that this proposal:
is legally and technically sound;
retains a persons power as per the 1967 referendum result;
is clear in meaning;
is both a narrow and a broad option;
limits the 'adverse discrimination' provision to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
limits the capacity of the Commonwealth, states and territories constitutionally to discriminate.
The committee recommends that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 be amended to include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the list of international instruments which comprise the definition of human rights under the Act.
6
The committee recommends that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 be amended to include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the list of international instruments which comprise the definition of human rights under the Act.
7
The committee recommends that the government hold constitutional conventions as a mechanism for building support for a referendum and engaging a broad cross-section of the community while focussing the debate.
8
The committee further recommends that conventions made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates be held, with a certain number of those delegates then selected to participate in national conventions.
9
The committee recommends that a referendum be held on the matter of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.
10
The committee recommends that a parliamentary process be established to oversight progress towards a successful referendum.

Uluru Statement from the Heart, 2017

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Referendum Council, 2017

1
That a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. One of the specific functions of such a body, to be set out in legislation outside the Constitution, should include the function of monitoring the use of the heads of power in section 51 (xxvi) and section 122. The body will recognise the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia.
2
That an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition be enacted by legislation passed by all Australian Parliaments, ideally on the same day, to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.

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