Launch: “This Whispering in Our Hearts”
On 26 July 2017, Uphold & Recognise launched This Whispering in Our Hearts, by David Allinson. The paper is available to download here.
The event was hosted by Danny Gilbert of Gilbert + Tobin, and the Australian Catholic University. With the launch, the evening celebrated both the moral tradition of Richard Windeyer and the growing support on the right for the proposals of the Referendum Council and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
David Allinson began the speeches by speaking to the paper, and emphasised that the proposals of an advisory body and an extra-constitutional declaration of recognition are eminently sensible and practical reform, befitting Australian constitutional traditions such as that of Sir Samuel Griffith.
They are also, Mr Allinson said, in keeping with another tradition from the colonial era: that of Richard Windeyer who asked, in his 1844 essay, "what means this whispering in our hearts?", speaking to the need for reconciliation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Australia.
Professor Greg Craven (a signatory to Uphold & Recognise’s Charter) spoke in support of the Referendum Council's recommendations. “There are voices of the states, there are voices of the parliaments, there are voices of the judiciary; there is a national voice which speaks most authoritatively through referendum and therefore the logical position, is a constitutional voice for indigenous people. And that's why I so very firmly associate myself with that call for a constitutional voice," he said.
The Australian cited remarks by Geoffrey Winters and Professor Greg Craven in support of the proposed Indigenous advisory body. Mr Winters, an aboriginal lawyer, spoke about the growing need for political leadership.
“I was not impressed when last week after the report came out you saw the member for Barton (Labor MP Linda Burney) and subsequently the WA senator (Labor’s Patrick Dodson) come out and express ... a pre-emptive defeatist attitude — but what might be more sceptically be understood as point-scoring,” he said.
Acting Justice Arthur Emmett spoke about the growing need to improve the way that Indigenous land rights are dealt with, and provided commentary on the current Native Title regime.
Shireen Morris, Constitutional Reform Fellow at the Cape York Insititute, spoke to the need to continue in the colonial tradition of encouraging "amity and kindness" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. She also spoke to the pragmatic and sensible nature of the Referendum Council's proposals, and the need for all sides of the political spectrum to support them.
Professor Megan Davis, who was a member of the Referendum Council, provided impromptu remarks to place the evening in historical context. The Professor remarked on the importance of supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The chairman for the evening, Michael Casey of the ACU's PM Glynn Institute was followed by Danny Gilbert, managing director of Gilbert + Tobin.
Mr Gilbert encouraged the audience to read the Referendum Council's report, and "understand that what they're asking, what the indigenous people are asking, for is not a great deal. They're asking for a body in the Constitution and an advisory body to the Parliament. It's not much more complicated than that".