There is a massive amount of confusion and debate within the Indigenous community regarding whether you are for or against constitutional recognition and, more specifically, the Recognise movement.
The major issue I have with Recognise is that the campaign started to garner support before the substantive wording and legal ramifications were put to Indigenous communities for consultative discussions. The fact that this is a campaign championed by Abbott himself and for us to be suspicious, we need only look to the bread crumbs he has already left us.
The Liberal policy document says:
".....the ordinary law of the land is observed – in indigenous communities no less than in the general community
... The key objective of a referendum will be to achieve a unifying moment for the nation, similar to that achieved by the 1967 constitutional referendum."
What is important is not what is said in the policy document, but rather what is not said. The government does not consider that the constitutional recognition will be anything more than a unifying moment for the 'nation.' This means that white Australia can pat themselves on the back for something.
There is no mention of sovereignty, there is no mention of addressing social and cultural injustice, there is no mention of reparation for historical injustice and genocide.
The intent of the government is clear. If the above breadcrumbs were not clear enough, let us consider the conduct of the government with respect to Indigenous Affairs since being elected:
Here is a quick summary of the cuts we know about so far:
The supposed 'Indigenous Advancement Strategy' has lead to numerous further funding cuts to essential Indigenous services, including the telephone service for Aboriginal people who find themselves in custody. It has lead to very profitable businesses for certain organisations that are willing to capitulate to LNP party policy (support for Recognise is on the application forms).
The more disappointing outcome of this debate is perhaps the underhanded behaviour of many of those involved with Recognise.
IndigenousX recognised a theme on social media among the Indigenous community, and the theme was that there was large pockets of opposition to Recognise or suspicion of its motives given that there has not been any official wording provided for community consideration. A community based survey then did the rounds and the findings were analysed by Celeste Liddle and demonstrated that the majority of those surveyed were against constitutional recognition as it stands.
Rather than recognising (pun totally intended) that the Indigenous community affected by the proposed changes were in large part opposed or undecided, and informing the community and allowing consultation. Recognise came out and attempted to undermine the credibility of the community run and analysed survey.
Let me be clear - this government and Recognise do not want dissent. They also do not want a treaty where they will be held to agreed standards of policy, reparation and land rights.
This means to undermine us and if you are in doubt, follow the bread crumbs left for yourself.
“… nothing but bush … the Marines, and the convicts and the sailors … must have thought they’d come almost to the Moon…. Everything would have seemed so extraordinarily basic and raw…”