Legal Support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart
August 5, 2020
Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was handed to the Australian people in May 2017, it has garnered extensive support from the legal fraternity across Australia as a reasonable and rational way forward to deliver real and practical constitutional change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a Voice to Parliament.
This support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important as it rebuts the criticism made of the Uluru Statement from the Heart by a number of politicians that it would create a ‘third chamber of parliament’.
A number of leading legal minds, including two former Chief Justices of the High Court, have dismissed this criticism as being as being incorrect, with Murray Gleeson stating that “it is unlikely that parliament will propose a change to the constitution in aid of Indigenous recognition if the effect of the change will be to curtail its own legislative power.
He also went on to state this notion “appears to have been well understood by the supporters of the Voice. What is proposed is a Voice to Parliament, not a Voice in Parliament”.
My Murray expressed support for a Voice to Parliament as “a body that has the capacity to speak to the Parliament on behalf of Indigenous people should be of advantage to parliament, and through it, the nation”.
Another former Chief Justice, Robert French has also expressed his support for a Voice to Parliament and that enshrining it in the Constitution would “reflect an existing national growth of respect for our First Peoples and thus for the whole of the full, rich and long history of the peoples of this continent”.
He went on to write “Recognition, and the respect that comes with it, can be given and made practical at a national level through the constitutionally supported mechanism of a Voice to the parliament that is representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Former chief justice Murray Gleeson has recently spelt out with compelling clarity the case for the Voice, which is supported by the Uluru Statement from the Heart and by existing precedents for extra-parliamentary advisory bodies.”
This support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a Voice to Parliament by two of the nation’s leading legal minds shows that the accusation that a Voice to Parliament would be a ‘third chamber of parliament’ does not reflect the truth.
The support of these important legal minds show that the Uluru Statement from the Heart has widespread support across the country and represents an opportunity for practical and real change in the Constitution to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Being over 115 year since Federation, it is time for Australia to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.
Join From the Heart and back the campaign to enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution.