Charter for Upholding the Australian Constitution and Recognising Indigenous Australians
We are Australians who are proud of our country and our Constitution.
- We hold different political views.
- We come from different backgrounds.
- We speak for different generations.
- We have had different experiences of life.
We value our Constitution, for it has served our nation well, providing Australia with an enviable record of stable democratic government.
We are committed to preserving and protecting our Constitution.
We are committed to the sovereignty of parliament and the rule of law.
We believe that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupy a unique place in the history and culture of Australia.
We believe Australians should formally recognise this.
As befits a free people, living in a parliamentary democracy, there are amongst us differences of view and emphasis:
- Some of us hold such recognition to be a deep moral imperative;
- Some of us regard it as necessary for improving indigenous health and education, which are the real priorities;
- Some of us believe the issue needs to be resolved and taken off the agenda once and for all;
- Some of us wish to identify the least worst option for addressing this issue.
We believe that our commitment to indigenous recognition is compatible with our commitment to upholding the integrity of the Australian Constitution.
We believe that the Constitution is a practical charter of government and is not the place for symbolism and poetry, but for establishing practical rules and processes: symbolic and poetic expressions of recognition should occur outside the Constitution.
We believe in constitutional certainty, acknowledging that inserting historical or symbolic language into the Constitution can create unintended consequences leaving all Australians worse off.
We are committed to consulting widely with indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in order to develop a package that will enable our nation to recognise its indigenous peoples, whilst at the same time preserving the integrity of the Constitution.
In particular, we are committed to working towards the following four priorities:
- Repealing section 25 of the Constitution;
- Repealing and replacing section 51(xxvi) of the Constitution so it reads:
“The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”;
- Adopting an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition;
- Ensuring the voice of indigenous people is heard in the processes of Parliament.
We believe that such a range of measures would fairly recognise Australia’s indigenous peoples; help to enable better outcomes for them; and, at the same time, uphold the integrity of the Australian Constitution.