cover image: APPENDIX H: DISCUSSION PAPER - Discussion Paper on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and


APPENDIX H: DISCUSSION PAPER - Discussion Paper on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and

12 Jul 2017

The Constitution distributes power between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories and sets out the roles of the federal Parliament and the executive (the government of the day). [...] The Joint Select Committee cited legal advice obtained by the Expert Panel on the relationship between settlement and sovereignty: Given the previous presence of all the different indigenous inhabitants and owners of all the different countries now comprising the territory of the nation Australia, contemporary legal doctrine implies acceptance that the basis of settlement of Australia is and alway. [...] In the Mabo decision, the High Court ruled in 1992 that the lands of this continent were not terra nullius or ‘land belonging to no-one’ when European settlement occurred, and that the Meriam people, the traditional owners, were ‘entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of (most of) the lands of the Murray Islands’. [...] Here are some of the key proposals to emerge from that process: • drafting a statement acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians, and inserting it either in the Constitution or outside the Constitution, either as a preamble in a new head of power or in a statutory Declaration of Recognition • amending or deleting the ‘race power’, section 51 (xxvi) and re. [...] The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: … (xxvi) The people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws One of the options for reform is to delete this head of power and insert a new head of power elsewhere in the Constitution that avoids the word ‘race’ and more.
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