Proposal to change platform on indigenous rights

We can listen to them all we want, but there is always a point where their demands may exceed what is reasonable. Claiming sovereignty, asserting their world as separate from the rest of the Australian population, and wanting a protected voice all exceeds reasonable. Much as it would exceed reasonable were any other subset of Australians to say the same thing.

Wait, I have an idea then. Let’s just fix Australian democracy concurrently and when that’s done we can disband the indigenous advisory body.

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I think herein lies the fundamental crux that spawns disagreement on this issue.

Namely, are the people of the Aboriginal Nations of this land with a 60,000 year+ historical attachment & long history of oppression, along with the past unique special (and predominately negative) treatment given to them, are they just “any other subset” of people… or, as a result of that past (and current) history and treatment, are there unique aspects that should be considered when dealing with them as a distinct people & culture and therefore unique considerations, especially in regard to the past 200 years+ of interactions between the Aboriginal people and the representatives & subjects of the British Crown.

To deny them the right to be recognised as any kind of distinct culture other than just “any other subset of Australians” certainly feels to me a lot like saying they should just assimilate already, but i’m sure that’s not the intent here,

there is always a point where their demands may exceed what is reasonable.

I agree with you there on that, but where i dont agree with you is that i dont personally feel that their demands at this point are unreasonable. To me they seem reasonable, quite measured and potentially rather productive.


I’ve already stated several times that I am thoroughly in favour of doing everything to end discrimination, make reparations for past injustice to those that suffered from them, and to provide assistance for a whole list of problems that aren’t specific to Aboriginals. I’m also in favour of taking steps to preserve their history and culture as a matter of national heritage.

But when it comes to democratic input on what the Australian government does? You better believe I consider them the same as any other subset of Australians.

And they have, in fact, already been (forcefully) assimilated. What we’re talking about here is a subset of the Aboriginal population trying to un-assimilate and become the nation that ceased to exist quite some decades ago, if not longer.

But I’m repeating myself again.

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(tldr, only just noticed this thread)

Let me get straight to it.

I will try to be pithy as this is a complex issue. Please bear with me if I sound angry.

As an outspoken supporter (see @ beedemocracy on Twitter) of Aboriginal Sovereignty advocates I embrace the move to scratch our policy’s support of ‘Constitutional Recognition’, something I’ve been uneasy with ever since attending this Panel discussion with members of Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR). Since then I have met more sovereignty advocates through the student environmental movement and have just recently read Clare Land’s fabulous book Decolonising Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles, with a foreword by the legendary Gary Foley.

I strongly recommend ‘Decolonising Solidarity’ to anyone who is serious about helping rather than hindering Indigenous struggles in Australia. Serioulsy. Look it up. Read it. Think through it.

‘Recognise’ is a corrupt $20 million bipartisan campaign to try and convince Indigenous people that symbolically changing the Australian constitution to ‘recognise’ Indigenous people will help them. This attempt obviously failed, even among the ‘leaders’ or ‘delegates’, who overwhelmingly want some sort of treaty negotiations. At the same time, complaints of intransparency, railroading and lack of proper process are to be taken very seriously especially by a party who claims to be anti-authoritarian (like us). It is important to note that all the Victorian delegates as well as those from Dubbo, WA, walked out of the Uluru convention together with their 30+ supporters. (link includes video with statements)
Do we know that the roomful of delegates, of ‘leaders’ who had to be invited by the government to be allowed in at the convention, represent general Aboriginal opinion? Can we take their results for such a pivotal issue at face value? I think not. I have seen many blackfellas distancing themselves from all this, process and result. ‘Recognise’ have been going around the country recruiting supporters for years with a huge budget and are calling this ‘consultation’ in typical government style. This is not consultation. It is a government supported PR campaign, money which would have been spent much better on reparation payments.

There is a meeting announced at the tent embassy in Canberra for ‘all Sovereign people’ coming up in 4 weeks’ time. If we are to get this right, don’t just make up a new policy based on a 1 page statement result of some corrupt government process. Wait and see how the Indigenous community responds and what the result of the Canberra gathering will be. Listen to what Indigenous people have been advocating for ever: treaties, land rights, self-determination. We should educate ourselves on the issues and all its complexities. We desparately need to educate ourselves on the history of Indigenous resistance movements in this country. Only then will we be able to write a policy that is constructive rather than damaging through our own ignorance.

I want to finish with the recognition that Indigenous struggles are related to everyone’s struggles and the realisation of Indigenous Sovereignty goes hand in hand with everyone else’s liberation from the shackles of neoliberal capitalism (e.g. fucking cashless welfare cards, the dangers of coal seam gas fracking, giant coal mines and associated goverment corruption, etc.). Together we are strong. Power to the people.

From the heart,

Laura Killian


Agricultural practices were, actually, described by a number of first explorers. Even if some were in denial and colonising forces ignored it for the obvious legal reasons. Look up Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu for more on this topic. :slight_smile:

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This is a description of the ongoing assimilation, which is a form of genocide, that is happening in Australia. Sovereignty never ceded, hence the First Nations still exist. If sovereignty never ceded, we are still illegally occupying land. Only way to reach peace is through treaties. This is how we stop genociding. :slight_smile:


I… just… no. Just no. That is not how assimilation, genocide, or sovereignty works. Please consult a dictionary. Then tell me which dictionary, because I suspect we’re using different ones.

But I do quite like your earlier wall of text post. Even though I’m obviously an opponent of reestablishing Aboriginal sovereignty, and should instead be considered an advocate of the sovereignty of the Australian people as a whole. All governing power should flow from the bottom upwards and all that.

Thank you for the compliment. I take it we do agree on some vital things like. I will look up a definition of sovereignty now. A quick glance at this wikipedia article, which describes popular sovereignty: “for the sovereignty of the people’s rule, is the principle that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by the consent of its people”, show that the Australian people assert their sovereignty over the continent Australia through a representative democracy. Or is it actually the British Crown (we stiil talk about ‘Crown Land’)? The conflict arose when sovereign people who were there previously are not recognised as sovereign as separate from the colonial powers (us) and we refuse to even negotiate treaties that would allow us to live side by side peacefully. Without forced assimilation into the Australian = Colonial government system.

When it comes to democratic input on what the Australian government does in relation to aboriginal affairs, I believe aboriginal people need a much greater voice. After all, they’re only proposing to advise on legislation directly related to them, not on taxation or defence or anything else.

It’s very easy for the majority to influence government decisions that affect the majority. It’s almost impossible for aboriginal people to influence government decisions on aboriginal affairs.

Distributive justice demands not just equal access to polling booths but equal access to opportunities for self determination. Aboriginal people are asking for an opportunity to help shape their own future and our collective future; an opportunity we already enjoy.

Advocating for fair opportunities for vulnerable minority groups is something we already do for file sharers, asylum seekers, and the unemployed. I don’t see how anybody can deny that aboriginal people are not vulnerable and disadvantaged compared to the majority of Australians. If you can’t honestly say you’d be happy to trade places with an aboriginal person than you are being disingenuous in invoking social equality as a reason to not help.

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My understanding of the Uluru convention is that they abandoned the Recognise campaign due to lack of support and the statement was a compromise between the Recognise people and people wanting a Treaty, at least those who didn’t walk out. I am not comfortable with picking sides in internal disputes within the indigenous movement, I have been supporting indigenous rights my whole adult life and there are almost as many opinions as people. Writing off delegates to the Uluru convention as government patsies probably isn’t a good idea.

That said, we should listen to the different opinions. The best description I found on why people walked out is this:

The Uluru walkout: Constitutional recognition, Treaty and structural change

I would be happy to hold off on a specific policy position until the meeting at the Tent Embassy. Regardless of the outcome, we will need to update the policy at Congress. @LMK you are going to be drafted to help writing it, sucker. :slight_smile:


@Frew thanks, I’ve read Natalie Cromb’s article. Almost linked to it myself. The reason I linked to the NITV article is the video embedded with statements by the ‘delegates’ who walked out as to why. I.e. original source.

I find your attempt at objectivity endearing. :wink:

I have been following the debacle at the Uluru convention since the start. This is not about taking sides. It’s about recognising process has been corrupt. Politics is never objective, it’s always led by interests and motives, no matter how evidence-based you are. You are taking sides just as much as I am if you endorse the process and outcome of the Uluru convention. The delegates being Indigenous doesn’t make the government’s framing of the issue immune to critique. I see astroturfing campaigns very critically. Nobody at the convention bought the symbolic ‘recognition’ in the constitution as by any means sufficient. That they went and pushed for far more far-reaching constitutional changes speaks for them. The government’s silence on this outcome has been deafening, indicating that it was an unexpected outcome. It was not a compromise: all working groups there wanted treaty. I don’t know who came up with the ‘parliamentary voice’ idea.

If you think you can rope me into the flawed policy development process again, Ima have to draft you for implementing the liquid democracy work I’m supporting. I’ve been translating for your benefit: What is real Liquid Feedback? (more to come). Perhaps the congress can conference-call the author in so she can introduce her work?
But beware, if you draft me I might argue against having a policy at all at this stage. This is not our area of expertise and I am sceptical that our process for policy development will come up with a decent policy that doesn’t just feels good to us in only a month.

@jedb Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part. Cultural genocide includes “Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures”


I have been involved in supporting indigenous politics for 20 years, this isn’t my first rodeo, there is no need to be patronising. I am happy to wait to see what comes out of the meeting at the tent embassy before we decide anything. We do have to change out platform regardless of what happens as the current position is to support Recognise.

That said, more militant activists often have positions that are not going to fly with the majority of the Australian population, and have no hope of being achieved. To get constitutional change you realistically need the support of both major parties, the support of all the State governments and the support of the majority of the Australian population. Ignoring this is dooming any campaign to failure.

What came out of the Uluru convention clearly is not what the government supports, as you say:

The parliamentary voice idea is the vehicle from which indigenous people advance a Treaty as I understand it. I suspect that the Makarrata idea is to make it more palatable to major party politicians, whilst leaving the door open for a Treaty. It also acts as an endorsed body to represent indigenous interests to parliament.

The Uluru Convention is clearly flawed, but the outcome it is a damn sight better than the Recognise campaign, which is dead in the water. The people behind the Convention need the support of indigenous activists or it will fail too, hence the final position being a path towards a Treaty. Let’s see what comes out of the meeting at the tent embassy before we lock anything in.

Flawed? Eh, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Start a different thread for that debate and ping @AndrewDowning as he is the voting system expert. I am nought but a humble musician, computer stuff tends to go over my head. Could be good for Congress, again I defer to Andrew on the value of any voting system.


Didn’t mean to insult you. My point was, no matter how hard we try to be objective and ‘take all sides into consideration’, we will always be the vehicle for one or another agenda. All sides are not equally right, as with everything.

I agree and I would vote to remove our current policy regardless of what we replace it with, be it nothing or something else.

It is unclear that there is much popular Indigenous support for constitutional change in any form.

Quite happy to do that. :slight_smile:


Hey @Frew, you know this is Laura who was in the PDC last year, right? Laura has some contacts in Europe who work on online democracy systems. She translates documents sometimes. Quite useful. Thanks Laura.


Yeah. You are the guy to talk to, but not in this thread. :wink:

There is for a Treaty.

The way I interpret the statement from Uluru is that the ‘Voice’ is the vehicle they (as in the people behind the statement) want to use to advocate for it. They want it written into the Constitution to stop a future hostile government from abolishing any indigenous organisation that they find annoying, as Howard did with ATSIC.

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you don’t need constitutional reform to negotiate treaties.

See the rest of my statement. The state also needs a clear body to negotiate with, which does not currently exist. Again, the Voice is a path for this.

Let’s just wait and see what happens in the next month. Things will be much clearer.

Interesting article:


Let’s see…

It follows the myth that Aboriginals have no political voice in this country as compared to non-Aboriginals.

It adheres to the “rightful place” idea that the first people to set foot on a piece of land have eternal right to say what happens to it. Also ignoring tribal warfare that would’ve taken place at some point in Aboriginal history.

It thinks that sovereignty cannot be taken by force.

It claims that Aborignal sovereignty somehow still exists, despite, well, everything that has happened up until now.

It implies that democracy is a racial, white person’s thing that doesn’t extend to all citizens.

It explicitly calls for segregation even more obviously than the Uluru statement.

If by ‘interesting’ you meant ‘full of absolute bullshit’ then yes, yes it is.

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