Controversy over celebration of Australia Day on the anniversary of First Fleet colonisation has overshadowed other important issues such implementing a treaty acceptable to First Australians.
At last year’s Queensland State Election Labor won a majority of 48 seats in the Parliament. With that comes an enormous opportunity for the Labor Government to finally look at its new policies relating to our First Nations peoples, particularly a Treaty.
In 2016/17 the Queensland Indigenous Labor Network along with several other groups of the Queensland ALP passed policy resolutions that a state Labor government work towards achieving Treaty for our First Nations peoples (both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) in Queensland, following similar moves by ALP state branches in Victoria, and South Australia.
For generations since the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788, our First Nation’s peoples have been subject to a great deal of anguish, pain, and suffering due to the colonization of Europeans ever since.
We can’t sugar coat history from what occurred from the Australian Frontier Wars up until throughout the era in which the stolen generations occurred along with the murders and alcohol abuse which also occurred.
But there is a great deal we can all change today to continue the process of healing and reconciliation between all peoples in Australia.
Yes, there have been glimmers of hope for our First Nation’s people with suffrage being granted in the 1967 referendum , Whitlam and Fraser working to bring about land rights in the Northern Territory, Keating making the Redfern address and granting native title in the early 1990s, and Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation.
There have of course been hurdles with the Hawke government abandoning plans for Treaty in the late 1980s, slow action for First Nations peoples during the Howard era, the back flip to not support treaty talks under the Turnbull government, and the Adani saga in Queensland at present which begs these questions:
- Will the Queensland State Government respect native title and local indigenous contribution to the treaty processes on issues like the Adani mine in central QLD respecting the wishes of the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples regarding Treaty?
- Will the Quandamooka peoples (including QYAC as well as all traditional elders) with concerns regarding the Toondah Harbor PDA issue be able to contribute their say on this matter to the Treaty process as well?
If Queensland Labor wants to do the right thing and respect the legacy it achieved in the 1990s and beyond that when it stood by the likes of Eddie Mabo it must achieve a balance for both First Nation people’s concerns for the environment issues and the recognition of their native title rights as well as all rights.
While issues concerning the changing of Australia Day may be an idea to explore with the wider community one day, more pressing issues are being overlooked. Closing the gap, and furthering a Treaty is what will ensure better equality for our First Australians.
Queensland Labor Party policy on a Treaty
Here’s what the 2017 State Labor policy platform says
Callen Sorensen–Karklis – 25 January 2018
Callen is an active member of the Australian Fabians Society, Crime Stoppers, Meals on Wheels and is a Quandamooka Noonucle Indigenous person with a strong commitment to community.