ECAJ Support for Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

September 26th, 2011

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the elected representative organisation of the Australian Jewish community, presents the following submission for consideration by the Panel concerning the proposal to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

Overall, the ECAJ favours amendments to the Constitution which will:
(i) articulate the fundamental values of Australian society;
(ii) recognise the distinct identities and rights of Indigenous Australians arising from their prior and unique relationships with their lands, territories and resources;
(iii) repeal current provisions in the Constitution which are based on racial discrimination (sections 25 and 51(xxvi));
(iv) provide for the insertion of an enforceable guarantee of racial equality that would apply generally to the Parliament’s power to legislate (the racial equality guarantee);
(v) empower the Australian Government, notwithstanding the racial equality guarantee, to pass laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for their benefit and advancement;
(vi) empower the Commonwealth to negotiate and conclude agreements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on matters that affect their communities, and for the terms of such agreements to apply notwithstanding any inconsistency with existing State or Federal laws.