Image for National Aboriginal meeting to consider constitutional recognition and alternatives

Key Aboriginal leaders will meet in Melbourne this weekend (22/23rd August, 2015) to fully consider all constitutional recognition proposals and weigh them against alternative proposals. The principle assessment tool will be which best confers a benefit on Aboriginal people.

There will be a broad cross section of Aboriginal Australia present, including experienced campaigners and young activists. Some attendees are:

• Les Malezer, Co-Chair of First Nations Congress and member of the Expert Panel;

• Kerry Blackman from Queensland, former ATSIC Commissioner and Reconciliation Council Board member, who supports a treaty as an alternative;

• Geoff Clark from Victoria, former ATSIC Chairman;

• Tauto Sainsbury from SA, National Co-ordinator of the Alice Springs summit in 2014;

• Sol Bellear from NSW, Aboriginal Health Service, Redfern;

• Heather Sculthorpe, CEO of Tasmanian Abroiginal Centre;

• Terry O’Shane from Queensland, Aboriginal delegate on Maritime Union of Australia and former ATSIC Commissioner;

• Meriki Onus from Victoria, member Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance who organised an 8,000 strong rally in Melbourne in May this year;

• Callum Clayton-Dixon from Armidale, NSW, who recently travelled to Solomon Islands and into Australia on his Aboriginal passport

• and Michael Mansell, lawyer from Tasmania.

This will be the first national Aboriginal meeting organised to consider Tony Abbott’s constitutional recognition proposal to be discussed with a delegation of Aborigines led by Pat Dodson on Thursday, 20th August. Pat Dodson, Noel Pearson, Kirstie Parker and Megan Davis have been invited to brief the Melbourne meeting on the outcome of talks with the PM.

The Melbourne meeting will consider 3 current recognition proposals: recognition suggestion for a preamble; Pat Dodson’s anti-discrimination measures entrenched in the constitution and Noel Pearson’s Aboriginal body to comment on federal legislation.

Alternatives to be compared to those ideas include:

• designated seats in parliament;

• a treaty;

• a national body with $25b, and legislative powers;

• autonomy and self-government;

• an Aboriginal 7th State,

• or amending the Native Title Act so people who cannot claim native title are compensated for the loss of native title.

This is not an APG meeting although the APG is facilitating it.

Michael Mansell: National Aboriginal meeting to consider constitutional recognition and alternatives