October 12th 2016
Constitutional Recognition of Tasmanian Aboriginal people
Letter to the Editor Re: States first people to be properly recognised:
The state government Liberals and Labour parties are all about making themselves feel and
look good, by tabling a bill that is meant to benefit Aboriginal people.
This Bill only makes white people feel that they are doing something for us.
In reality adding Aboriginal people to the State constitution is a way of avoiding the real
issues rather than what can be done for the Aboriginal community in Tasmania.
Our community is asking the Liberal and Labour parties to stop wasting time and valuable
tax payer’s money on a token gesture that the Tasmanian Aboriginal community doesn’t
If the state Government was serious about doing something for the Aboriginal community
they would be discussing a Treaty with us. Discuss the real issues.
The only political group who still seem to have principals in state politics are the Greens who
are opposing this ‘make white people feel good bill’ and are supporting a need for a treaty.
The Aboriginal community would embrace and welcome a treaty that would address past
wrongs creating a better future. Let Tasmania move forward with its first people with
proper recognition in the form of a treaty.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
The Hodgman government set up an inquiry to find out if Aboriginal people wanted
constitutional recognition. We told the Inquiry we did not. We saw from similar mainland
experience the disappointment Aboriginals felt when they were given token recognition. We
suggested the better way to recognise what had happened to Aboriginals in Tasmania was
to address dispossession, domination and disadvantage. The Liberals started land returns in
1995 and while we still have less than 1% of the 67,000 square kilometres we used to have,
the process of land return was credible and meaningful. Token recognition does not create
any rights in Aboriginals or impose any obligations on government. The whole exercise has
been a distraction from land returns, 4 wheel drive damage to Aboriginal heritage, and
doing something about poor Aboriginal education retention rates and over‐imprisonment.
Our views were clearly ignored and whether we like it or not, the Tasmanian parliament will
impose this on us, against our will.
Recognition should be meaningful and the beneficiaries dignified. How would same‐sex
supporters feel if, instead of gaining legal equality, they were offered token recognition?
How would flood victims like to be ‘recognised’ but then left to fend for themselves. And
what about the Labor Party? Without any discussion with us about the better way forward,
Madeleine Ogilvie, ALP spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs, said her Party supported the
It may be that people like Mr Hodgman, Ms Ogilvie and the Committee members mean well.
But their combined move is to make themselves, not Aboriginals, feel good. They will feel
warm and fuzzy for having ‘done their bit,’ leaving Aboriginal people sidelined and
frustrated at a wasted opportunity.
Premier Will Hodgman tabling a bill for the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people is an
absolute waste of time and opportunity. Previous governments have already recognised Aboriginal
people as being the traditional owners of the land when they returned land to the Aboriginal
community. Scientific evidence has already demonstrated that Aboriginal people have been in
Tasmania for at least 40,000 years. The opportunity has been presented to do something real and
meaningful for Aborigines, such as to negotiate a treaty, yet the state government has gone with
constitutional recognition – which does absolutely nothing for Aborigines, no matter how the
government dresses it up. It’s a useless act by government to make it appear that they are doing
something for Aboriginal people. The Hodgman government’s real intentions toward Aboriginal
people are evident in their aggressive insistence on opening up 4WD tracks that will severely impact
ancient Aboriginal heritage on the West Coast and by watering down Aboriginality policies, making it
possible for non‐Aboriginal people to speak for Aboriginal people and use Aboriginal services.
The State Liberal party are tabling a bill for constitutional recognition of Tasmanian Aboriginal
Unbelievable, Mr Hodgman and Ms Ogilvie, do you really think this legislation will be for the
betterment of Aboriginal people? I don’t think so.
Instead of token gestures, do something tangible like stop the opening of the tracks on the N/W
coast, protect Aboriginal heritage, fund the alternative to prison program for our youth, the list goes
The Premier continues to say that he wants to reset the relationship between his government and
the Aboriginal community. Well you can start by listening to us, we don’t want constitutional