Today, the 26th of May, marks Sorry Day and one year since the historic Uluru Statement was signed in the presence of Uluru, on the lands of the Anangu.
Sorry Day provides the nation with an opportunity to reflect on the hurt and suffering inflicted on Australia’s First Nations people, and recommit ourselves to building a reconciled Australia.
Central to this project is ensuring First Nations people have a voice in the issues that affect their lives.
Labor acknowledges the one-year anniversary of the historic Uluru Statement and the hurt and frustration of so many at the lack of progress on implementing the recommendations of the Referendum Council.
Instead of giving the very legitimate aspirations of First Nations people proper consideration, Malcolm Turnbull has turned his back on those calls.
Labor will take the Uluru Statement from the heart, into our hearts.
After the 2017 Garma Festival, Labor leader Bill Shorten wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, proposing a Joint Parliamentary Committee to work towards finalising a Referendum question.
The work of that committee, the Joint Select Committee Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2018, is now underway. Labor is proud to have Senator Patrick Dodson, the father of reconciliation as co-chair of that committee, continuing to work with patience and respect with First Nations people and the Parliament.
Labor continues to work in a bi-partisan way with the Government through the Joint Select Committee, however, there the Government’s handling of the Uluru Statement has set the nation back on the long overdue work of recognition of First Nations people.
Labor’s position is clear: we will work with the Government, but we will not wait for them. First Nations people have waited 250 years to be recognised for who they are, the First People of this country, and for recognition as sovereign peoples whose land was taken by force.
That is why, if the Government remains opposed to the call from Uluru, a Shorten Labor Government will legislate the Voice to Parliament as a first step towards constitutional entrenchment.
Labor is also committed to doing what we can to right the wrongs to the past, and ensure those wrongs are never repeated.
That is why we have committed to a compensations scheme for the Stolen Generations in Commonwealth jurisdictions, as well as the establishment of a Healing Fund. We will also convene a National Summit on First Nations Children, to address the extremely high rates of child removal.
This Sorry Day, we continue to commit ourselves to working with First Nation’s people every step of the way.