Indigenous constitutional recognition is overdue

Meaningful recognition of Indigenous Australians is long overdue, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said today.

“We have long supported constitutional recognition to ensure Indigenous Australians have a greater voice in decisions that affect their lives.  

“A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament will help ensure Indigenous Australians can enjoy the opportunity of full participation in the Australian economy and society as a whole.”

The Business Council’s submission to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition, published today, makes a number of recommendations to the parliament to help ensure progress on reform does not falter.  

“The committee must work towards a clear framework, explaining how the Indigenous Voice to the Parliament would work and giving the public and government an assurance that an Indigenous Voice would not constrain the Parliament’s legislative powers,” Ms Westacott said.

“A clearly articulated, concrete proposal will help avoid community uncertainty undermining support for reform.

“Recognition in the constitution can also help support efforts to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage, alongside much needed economic development – through employment, procurement and capital formation.

“Our members are firmly committed to Indigenous empowerment and economic inclusion.

“Our members employ more than 20,000 Indigenous Australians and have spent or contracted more than $2 billion with Indigenous-owned businesses and joint ventures.

“A decision should be put to the Australian people via a referendum within 12 months of the next federal election. With the support of the Australian people, this would deliver a constitutional change before July 2020.”

The Business Council’s full submission to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is available here.

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