The Importance of Federal Parliament’s Welcome To Country

The Importance of Federal Parliament's Welcome To Country

June 29, 2010

The State's peak Aboriginal organisation, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, has welcomed the decision to include a traditional Welcome to Country at the first meeting of the Federal Parliament after each election.

NSWALC Chairwoman Bev Manton says the decision to amend the Standing Orders of the Parliament to incorporate this Aboriginal cultural tradition is a small but significant symbolic step in the ongoing recognition of Aboriginal cultural and heritage within Australian parliaments.

It follows the recent decision by the NSW Government to formally recognise the First Peoples of NSW in the preamble to the State's Constitution.

"I'm sure the decision on the Standing Orders of the Federal Parliament announced by the Federal Government will be welcomed by all Australians who value the protection, preservation and recognition of Aboriginal culture and heritage," Ms Manton said.

"As the Federal Government has stated-it's a simple act--but at its heart is respect," she added

"The amendment to the Standing Orders followed the introduction of simultaneous motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"The Federal Opposition made it clear in both Houses they opposed the proposal but did not formally move to block its adoption by the Parliament.

"I find it sad that they cannot understand the symbolic importance of such a small gesture.

"To suggest it will make no difference at all to the health, education, employment, housing or welfare outcomes for Aboriginal people is to totally miss the point.

"It is an important token of respect; nothing more, nothing less.

Bev Manton