“My personal view is that Aboriginal people would be well advised to join with [George] Brandis and the other wreckers, and knock the notion of constitutional reform on the head.”
Provocative stuff from Chris Graham in Crikey today, a journalist who has listened to more Aboriginal people and written more on Aboriginal affairs in this country than any other.
That’s one view. But as Graham acknowledges, it’s one of many in the community. Most of which we’re not hearing.
As advocates work towards a referendum on amending the constitution to recognise the first Australians next year, there’s typical argy-bargy in Canberra over how to proceed with the measure and convince an electorate historically cynical towards any question on a ballot. Brandis went so far as to suggest only Tony Abbott could get it over the line.
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But as Graham writes:
“While I acknowledge that symbolism is important, it is only worth embracing when it’s in the hands of politicians who will use it responsibly, and back it up with practical measures and outcomes. Otherwise, it is simply another mechanism for Australian leaders to strut the world stage and try and portray this nation in a light that it does not deserve.”
Let’s ask Aboriginal elders what they want from the process of recognition and reconciliation. You can bet it’s a lot more than a political statement.