Australia's Parliament Recognizes Indigenous Peoples As First Inhabitants

Australia’s lower house of parliament yesterday passed legislation recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the country’s first inhabitants.

The Bill, which coincided with the fifth anniversary of the government’s apology to the “stolen generation” of forcibly adopted Aboriginal children, is the first step towards a referendum for constitutional change.

The Australian constitution currently does not acknowledge indigenous Australians.

Prime minister Julia Gillard said the legislation, which passed with unanimous support, is a “sign of good faith” that parliament is committed to righting previous wrongs.

“No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation’s fabric than amending our nation’s founding charter,” she told parliament. “This bill seeks to foster momentum for a referendum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Opposition Liberal party leader Tony Abbott says constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians is long overdue.

‘United people’

“We need to atone for the omissions and for the hardness of heart of our forebears, to enable us all to embrace the future as a united people,” he said.

Mr Abbott, who is widely expected to become prime minister after the federal election in September, praised Ms Gillard’s work.

“So often in this place, we are antagonists. Today on this matter, we are partners and collaborators,” he said.

Ms Gillard said that in the “decade of deliberation” that created Australia’s constitution, there was no record of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person taking part.

“Indigenous people did not ordain our constitution nor contribute to its drafting. They had no opportunity to vote for it, and yet all were affected by what it said and what it failed to say. They were affected by provisions that even by the standards of the time seem questionable and strike us now as harsh and inhumane.

“Because among the 128 sections of the constitution, there is no acknowledgment of Australia’s first peoples. No mention of their dispossession. Their proud and ancient cultures. Their profound connection to the land. Or the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story,” she said.

Indigenous rights campaigner Pat Dodson welcomed its passing but says there is much more work to be done.

“The passing of the act of recognition today is one hill we have climbed but it does not mean we have conquered the mountain,” he said.

Responses to "Australia recognises indigenous peoples"

  1. Anonymous says:

    now Australia should recognise it is an unlawful occupation of already occupied (60 to 90,000 years) land. Not once have Aboriginal people been asked what they want. The question is not, should Aboriginal people be recognised in the CONstitution but - Should Aboriginal people recognise any jurisdiction or authority of the Crown, or the Commonwealth of Australia as valid at all. The Crown and Commonwealth seem to have it all backwards. Just perpetuating their fraud, aiming to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide with the stroke of a pen.



  4. Anonymous says:

    Invasores y conquistadores europeos ....de siglos anteriores arrasaron con todas las culturas nativas , ancestrales, exterminaron , mataron, robaron y para cerrar con broche de oro ...llegan a la actualidad condenándolos a vivir como parias en sus propias tierras de origen . Reconocerlos ahora es un deber, es una deuda (aunque es impagable ) que tienen con los auténticos pueblos ancestrales del mundo ....

  5. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see this first step towards reconciliation. Every nation should recognize and follow the United Nations Declaration of rights for Indigenous peoples. In Canada, it is getting worse all the time for First Nations.
    Ishbel Munro

  6. Anonymous says:

    Its just words

  7. Anonymous says:

    Help the Canadian's - It's getting worse everyday overhere with the Omnibus Bill legislation that's written to only benefit corporate greed! Help us! S.O.S

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Australian government and the Crown of England are already aware that they are in fact in breach of there own Constitutional and Soveriegn laws and have been for a long time . Only Truth and Justice will prevail anf heal the wounds we have inflicted and hopefully lead us to become the Righteous Nation that we proud Australian citizens aspire to be. Our leaders usually take an oath to God upon there swearing in and need to be reminded that onto God they will be held account. Not the greedy capatalists.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yeahhhhhhh!!!!!! So pleased and proud for my Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How dare the government wait this long to introduce the true people of this country into a white constitution. Why has it taken so long. Shame on you all, this makes me ashamed to call myself Australian. Then to go ahead without the consent of the true people again shame on you. Who do you think you are to make descisions for our first people without their imput. Self determination I say. Let the first people have an imput and have their say. Once again the white government making descisions for tribal people who do you think youy are.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Everybody knows the truth!! We must all come together as one group of true sovereign people of our land. Support us in the legal battle to spread the word of the governments deceipt lies with no legal substance behind them, but only a con to constitutionalise us under there umbrella with more lies and deceipt. I say no along with others that we shall not be apart of the Australian CONstituion until we agree that the constitution is for the better not the worst as it is now. For example there is about 50 articles in the UN charter to deal with Indigenous human right issues, why aren't there any of them in this constitution if the government is serious about true recognision of the first australians. European is our first imigrants not we the first people, we have always been here. First in time first in law.

  12. gods4me2 says:

    It is a great victory for sovereign peoples! And it only took 500 years!

    I wonder if the red peoples of the world invaded( discovered ) Europe and displaced ( imprisoned in prison camps "reservations" )

    Do you think it would take 500 years for the red peoples to say " hey that's right you were here first"!

    It's time for peoples every where to get rid of their power hungry corrupt, living in the dark ages Governments. We are all SOVEREIGN BEINGS!

  13. Anonymous says:

    This recognition was rejected. You should update the article to include the point of view of aboriginals.


  14. Unknown says:

    Idle No more worldwide !

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