Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous People

Program: Sky AM Agenda

E & OE – Proof only

KIERAN GILBERT: Minister, thanks for your time.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning.

KIERAN GILBERT: What is the significance of today’s Act of Recognition?

JENNY MACKLIN: This will be the first time that the Australian Parliament has an Act of the Parliament saying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Australians. This Act of Recognition will acknowledge the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their special relationship with land and sea, and of course their unique culture.

KIERAN GILBERT: What is the significance, I mean in the sense of as a stepping stone towards the ultimate aim I suppose which is Constitutional Recognition, to change the Referendum, to change the Constitution via a Referendum?

JENNY MACKLIN: That is right. What we want to do is see this Act of Recognition really as the first step. The first step towards building the momentum that we need to make sure that the vast majority of Australians say ‘yes’ to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians in our Constitution. They have never been recognised in the Constitution in the past, and we need of course a widespread campaign across the community to do that. This Act of Recognition will help us.

KIERAN GILBERT: Well there is bipartisan support for it and will it bind the next Parliament to have a Referendum? Is that what this Bill is about?

JENNY MACKLIN: No. What the Act of Recognition does though, we have put a sunset clause into the Act of Recognition, and what that means is that the next Parliament in two years time will have to continue to discuss and reconsider this matter. We want to use that to really drive the momentum towards a Referendum.

KIERAN GILBERT: Because there’s no guarantee that any Referendum in the next term or in the next few years would be successful is there?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the message from Aboriginal people is that we want a Referendum when we’re going to get a resounding ‘yes’. I think we want to see Australians come together unified in the spirit of reconciliation. We want a strong ‘yes’ vote and so of course we want to see that in the Parliament today, and I think we will. But we also need it out in the community.

KIERAN GILBERT: Minister, thanks very much for your time this morning, appreciate it.