Mildura Victoria 3502
Dear Co-Design Body
Submission to Co-design process
I have long been engaged in various positions by Maraura/Thangkaali senior estate holders (within Paakantyi language block) in far south west NSW. Such engagements have involved me in such as the lower Paaka (Darling River) and Willandra Lakes World heritage Area (site of world oldest ritual cremation and ritual ochre burials) and Lake Victoria water storage (site of one of world largest pre industrial cemeteries). I have also been fortunate to have studied numerous subjects of interest at various Australian tertiary institutions. I acted as the National Native Title Tribunal registered representative for the Applicant in the fully NNTT registered Pooncarie Barkandji (Paakantyi) applications for determination of Native Title in western NSW between 1995 to 2002. I have represented Maraura/Thangkaali estate holders (and many other senior estate holders within other First Nations within the Paakantyi language block) before the NSW Land and Environment Court, NSW Supreme Court, and Federal Court of Australia (and Federal Court of Appeal). An unpublished academic paper authored by me (pertaining to historical/current NSW property law and Aboriginal land/water rights in far west NSW) was cited by the Hon Justice Biscoe in the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2014. I continue to have a small involvement in that particular legal matter and which matter currently remains on foot within the NSW Supreme Court
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Statement released at Uluru (the cumulation of prior dialogues) mirrors the long held aspirations of many persons pertaining to a need for a "truth" commission alongside a process to progress Treaties with the hundreds and hundreds of separate and independent First Nations across the Australian continent and surrounding islands. The call for a First Nations' 'voice' to Commonwealth law makers (Parliament) has been long sustained.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A First Nations' 'voice' to Parliament for each and every First Nation (that determine themselves to participate in process) seems the most reasonable and effective reform to deliver positive outcomes across many areas. Given the massive significance of the cultural material within the respective kiira kiiras of the various First Nations of such as the Paakantyi language block in western NSW (and parts of Victoria and South Australia) it is important the First Nations (traditional owners and senior estate holders) have the opportunity of a 'voice' to Commonwealth law makers (Parliament).
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
Any 'voice' to Commonwealth lawmakers (Parliament) should be enshrined within the Australian Constitution. Not only does such action offer a basic symbolic constitutional recognition that is long overdue but also offers a well overdue constitutional reform to allow an opportunity for First Nations to formally continue to voice their views to Commonwealth lawmakers on matters affecting them.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
It is particularly important that all First Nations have a 'voice' to Commonwealth lawmakers (Parliament) in matters that directly (and indirectly) affect them and their kiira kiira (country). In many instances First Nations persons have become a minority community within a larger minority 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' community currently residing on kirra kiira (country). Whilst First Nation senior estate holders recognise a need for all Indigenous persons to have a 'voice', nonetheless First Nation senior estate holders note such 'Indigenous voice' (in the form of local and regional councils or otherwise) should not further diminish the voice of traditional owners (First Nations) on kiira kiira (country).
I most respectfully submit that implementing any proposed 'voice' that only permits the views of an homogenised 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' community and which diminishes in any way the empowerment of a voice of First Nations' persons is essentially implementing a racist policy.