Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples Recognition Bill

The Australian Government today took an important step towards recognising Indigenous people in Australia’s Constitution with the introduction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 into Parliament.

This Act of Recognition provides an opportunity for Parliament to show its support and commitment to constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples.

It will also help raise awareness of the importance of constitutional change in the community.

The Bill includes a statement of recognition of the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that largely reflects the wording suggested by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Bill includes a statement of Parliament’s commitment to pursuing constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and it also recognises the important work of the Expert Panel.

It contains a sunset date of two years, which sets a clear timeframe to build towards change and ensures the focus remains on the ultimate goal of constitutional recognition.

Under the Bill, a review of the level of support from the Australian public and from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for amending the Constitution will conclude six months before the sunset date and will be tabled in Parliament.

The review will also consider proposals for constitutional change taking into account the important work that has been done by the Expert Panel.

The Government is committed to meaningful constitutional reform that reflects the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and unites our nation.

The Government knows we will need support from across the Parliament as a prerequisite for a successful referendum. We are pleased that today this Parliament is united in taking a strong step forward.

It is in this spirit that the Government has agreed to also establish a Joint Select Committee to progress Indigenous constitutional recognition and build support across Parliament for successful passage of the Bill.

The Committee has been asked to consider the Bill as its first task.

The Australian Government agrees with the findings of the Expert Panel that a referendum should be held at a time when it has the most chance of success.

The Government encourages all Australians to learn more and get involved in building support for constitutional change. Visit for more information.