EAST FREMANTLE has become the latest council to throw its support behind an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Veteran councillor Cliff Collinson raised the motion at the council’s last monthly meeting, saying it was essential “we all do our bit” towards reconciliation.
“The referendum is our one chance to do something for reconciliation and I’m very concerned that the Voice may fail,” Cr Collinson told the Herald.
“I’m very disappointed in Peter Dutton and the Opposition, and I’m worried that if this were to fail it would set back Indigenous development for many years, the same as when the referendum to become a republic failed and set back the idea of a republic by 40 years.”
Cr Collinson said he became annoyed with the argument a Voice would be elitist, her believes it will give marginalised communities a say in government decisions relating to their welfare.
His motion called for the council to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It was signed during a 2017 national constitutional convention with more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who met at the foot of Uluru in Central Australia.
The statement called for the establishment of a “First Nations Voice” in the Australian Constitution and a “Makarrata Commission” to supervise a process of agreement-making and “truth-telling” between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
East Fremantle’s support won’t come with any cash to support the campaign, unlike its neighbour Fremantle which committed $35,000 when it voted to support the Voice in March this year.
Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said the City’s reconciliation advisory group had made a strong pitch for the Voice referendum to be a priority this year.
While some have criticised Fremantle for stepping into federal politics, Cr Collinson said the council was a political organisation and that the Voice spoke to all levels of government.
“Although predominantly for the federal government, other levels should very much be involved in the whole reconciliation process,” Cr Collinson said.
“I think it is very much part of the councillor’s responsibility to take a stand on issues of importance. “
He said the council had recently advertised for applicants to its Reconciliation Action Plan steering committee which should be appointed soon.
The referendum’s wording has been released by prime minister Anthony Albanese, with Australians being asked: “A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
A bill with the wording is expected to return to the Lower House for debate within a week or so after being sent to a committee.
If it passes both houses of Parliament as anticipated, a date will be set for the referendum.
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart: Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart
by DANIEL SPENCE