Deadline Looms on Constitutional Recognition Feedback

August 10,2010

The deadline imposed by the State Government for community feedback on its proposal to formally recognise this State's first peoples in the preamble to the NSW Constitution is upon us.

As you would recall from the media statement and network message issued by NSWALC on June 16 the deadline for public submissions on the proposal is close of business this Wednesday (August 11)

It is important, in NSWALC's view, that members of the land rights network, and the wider Aboriginal community, make their voice heard on this important proposal.

Sometimes, people think they only need to respond when they are in disagreeance because government's routinely take silence as agreeance. But letters of support are, of course, the strongest way to indicate you are in favour of something.

With that in mind, NSWALC has welcomed the Keneally Government decision to move on this important issue and to seek community input of its proposal.

As most members would be aware the Constitution of NSW (Constitution Act, 1902) presently does not have a preamble, nor does it have other express recognition of Aboriginal people.

As the Constitution is an Act of Parliament it may be readily amended.

This can be done by the passage of an amending act in the State Parliament.

The Government has sought submissions by 5p.m. this Wednesday on the proposal, and its proposed amendment to the Act to enable it to prepare its proposal for presentation to the forthcoming Spring session of State Parliament.

Submissions can be made in writing to Aboriginal Affairs, NSW in Sydney or by email to enquiries@daa.nsw.gov.au.

Telephone submissions are also being received by Aboriginal Affairs, NSW on 1800 019998.

As members would recall from our previous media statement and network message the Government proposes to amend the Constitution Act 1902 (NSW) by inserting a new section 2A, which is suggested to take the following form:

  • (a) The People and Parliament of New South Wales acknowledge and honour the Aboriginal people as the first people and nations of the State, and
  • (b) The People and Parliament of New South Wales recognise that Aboriginal people have a spiritual, social and cultural relationship with their traditional lands and waters and have made a unique and lasting contribution to the identity of New South Wales.
  • (c) Nothing in this section creates in any person any legal right or gives rise to any civil cause of action, or affects the interpretation of this Act or any other law in force in New South Wales.

I have attached a recent briefing note prepared by NSW Parliamentary Library on constitutional recognition to this message for your information. It contains a great deal of informative material on this issue.

Bev Manton
Chairwoman
NSWALC