An important step towards recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution took place in November 2012 with the introduction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 into Parliament. The introduction of the Bill is an important step towards achieving constitutional change to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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.
It is in the spirit of bipartisanship that the Government has worked with the Opposition to establish a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to progress constitutional recognition. The Committee has been asked to consider the Bill as its first task and report to Parliament by the end of January 2013.
The Committee has called for submissions on the Bill, which are due by 11 January 2013.
Information on the Committee, including on how to make a submission, can be found at www.aph.gov.au/jointsc_atsi. It is anticipated the Bill will be debated in February 2013.
The Committee is further tasked with building a secure, strong, multi-partisan Parliamentary consensus around the timing, specific content and wording of referendum proposals for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.