TASMANIA will be a bellwether state when it comes to recognition of Aboriginal people, according to Northern Territory Labor Senator Nova Peris.
Senator Peris is in the state gauging support for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, and yesterday said failure was not an option.
‘‘We want to find out what Australia’s concerns are and whether they are ready for it,’’ Senator Peris said.
‘‘Failure would take back all the positive things that have happened with the apology and land rights and reconciliation.
‘‘We don’t want to go backwards, we want this to be a positive step for all Australians,’’ she said.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre legal director Michael Mansell wrote in an opinion piece yesterday that recognition would ‘‘bring no benefit’’ to Aboriginal people, and renewed his call for the date of Australia Day to be changed.
‘‘The biggest downfall of the recognition push is that it does not create any rights for Aboriginals nor does it impose any obligations on government,’’ Mr Mansell said.
But Senator Peris said constitutional recognition was about the whole recognition factor.
‘‘The history that is taught in our curriculum is short, it’s not the entire history, so there is a lot of positive that can come from embracing the 40,000 years this country has to offer,’’ she said.
Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh said that out of the nation’s 44 referendums, the nine that had been successful were with the state’s support.
‘‘Tasmania is crucial in its support for constitutional change when it comes to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people in our Constitution,’’ Senator Singh said.
‘‘If we really do want to create change, we certainly need the support of Tasmania.’’
Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic said constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘‘could be a unifying moment for our country’’.
‘‘We remain committed to this objective and continue to work with all parties across the Parliament to build a strong multi-partisan parliamentary consensus on proposals for change,’’ Mr Nikolic said.