Consultations on Queensland’s proposed treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made steady progress in Cairns, significantly raising the profile of Queensland’s ongoing Path to Treaty work.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford and the newly-appointed Treaty Advancement Committee had consultations in Cairns on Thursday.
The committee is charged with developing options and giving independent advice in what the government says is a vital role on its path to a treaty.
Crawford has previously said the state is also committed to a “truth-telling and healing” process.
The TAC is co-chaired by Bidjara/Birri Gubba Juru woman Jackie Huggins and Ghungalu man Mick Gooda.
The other members are Michael Lavarch, Josephine Bourne, and Sallyanne Atkinson.
Crawford says having the voices of local communities heard is an important step in the path to the treaty process.
“From consultations with Queenslanders right across the state we have seen an interest in our Path to Treaty that shows it will have an enduring legacy for generations to come,” he said.
“Treaties are a critical tool in promoting reconciliation and setting the foundation for a new and just relationship—one that acknowledges the ongoing disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience and provides a platform for justice, equality and opportunity.
“We must work together to truly reconcile our past with our present in order for us to share our future together.”
The TAC will report to government on options in the second half of 2021.
Meanwhile, Queensland is one of many jurisdictions involved in a treaty process after Victoria signed a treaty with Indigenous communities before passing it into law in July 2018.
The ACT signed a treaty with Indigenous groups in 2019 and the Northern Territory government has entered into treaty consultations, which are due to be completed by the end of this year.
South Australia’s Labor government had been working towards a treaty, but the process was stopped in 2018 upon the election of a new Liberal government.
NSW, Western Australia, and Tasmania are not working towards a treaty agreement at present.
The federal coalition government is also working on a design for an Indigenous voice to government, which would be consulted on laws but would not be cemented in the constitution.
National Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that he supports an Indigenous voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution