Wednesday, 8 September 2010

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally was reportedly emotional during an announcement today that legislation had passed through the state's parliament with bi-partisan support amending the constitution to recognise Aborigines as the state's first people. The law contained a clause ruling out the possibility of compensation claims.

It is a symbolic measure and serves a function similar to Kevin Rudd's historic Apology of early 2008. The ABC's NSW news page reported the event:
The Aboriginal Land Council's Bev Manson says the change is an important first step.

"This is a significant constitutional step in the right direction," she said.

"I can only hope that it will not be the only step. There are very few mechanisms for our people in this state which provide a basis for protecting our rights available as first peoples."
The newly elected Gillard government is expected to move to introduce law for a referendum to amend the national consitution along similar lines. Independent MP and Gillard backer Tony Windsor has expressed interest in such a measure. Windsor's seat of New England contains the site of the Myall Creek Massacre memorial. NSW MP, Minister for the State Plan, and Minister for Community Service, Linda Burney is a patron of the memorial.

Pic credit: AAP: Tracey Nearmy

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