Change to constitution debated

A bill to allow constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people as Tasmania’s First People has been debated in the House of Assembly. 

The bill received support from all sides of government but Labor Leader Bryan Green introduced a motion to have debate adjourned. 

Mr Green expressed concern members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community were not told the debate would occur ahead of time and it was important appropriate “ceremony” and “gravity” be given to the debate.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government has brought this debate on, which is such a historic matter, with such little fanfare,” Mr Green said. 

“We do not think it is respectful to the Aboriginal community.”

Indigenous Rights campaigner Rodney Dillon attended part of the debate after Mr Green’s motion was voted down. 

Mr Dillon said the Aboriginal community would likely take more interest in the bill if it reached the Legislative Council. 

“My scare is that we can all get our hopes up that it gets through [the lower house] but if when it gets to next level and it fell over we’d all be bitterly disappointed,” Mr Dillon said. 

“If there was more people here it would’ve been okay but it is what it is.” 

Premier Will Hodgman said the bill was a small step towards achieving Aboriginal reconciliation.

“Though it has been recognised that meaningful reconciliation will take many steps, constitutional recognition is a significant one,” Mr Hodgman said. 

The bill has been passed for a second reading.