Matter of Urgency: Jacinta Opposes Treaty

Jacinta speaks against Treaty, on a Matter of Urgency in the Senate on 13 June, 2023


I'm speaking today on this urgency motion because I disagree with its premise. A treaty is an agreement between two or more sovereign states. It is not an agreement between a state and its citizens.

It seems to me that many people want to treat Indigenous Australians as if they are not in fact Australian, as if we are different and separate. But the reality is that Indigenous Australians are Australians.

We have the same legal rights as every other Australian, including the right to participate in the democratic process. I have had the right to use my vote as my voice to have a say on who was going to be my local representative since I was 18, and I've had the right to nominate myself for public office, just like every other Australian.

This matter of public importance claims that a treaty would allow us all to unite and heal as a nation, but I disagree. I do not believe that a treaty is a way to unity or healing. I think it is divisive. I think it creates an us-and-them situation in the country that should be treating everyone as equal.

Like most other Australians, I also come from mixed heritage.

I am a Warlpiri woman, but I also have European heritage, and in my European heritage there were those who were dispossessed of their own land and brought to an entirely new country.

On which side of a treaty would I be?

What would a treaty mean for the huge number of Australians with similar diverse backgrounds?

If, as the case seems to be in Queensland, there are reparations involved, would those of us with mixed backgrounds be on the paying end or the receiving end? What about the Australians who have come more recently? What would a treaty mean for the immigrant population or recent-generation Australians?

The reality is that the push for treaty from the Left has nothing to do with addressing the real problems facing marginalised Indigenous Australians now.

A treaty will do nothing to stop alcohol and substance abuse.

It'll do nothing to stop domestic violence and sexual abuse or violent assaults in Indigenous committees.

A treaty will do nothing to address child abuse or fatherlessness. It won't bring better medical care or health outcomes.

It won't stop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. And it won't lead to better education for Aboriginal children.

I'm more interested in using this parliament's time, money and resources in pursuing real solutions that will have real impacts on the lives of marginalised Australians.

We know there are things we could be doing right now to improve these lives, but we're not doing them. Australians have an incredible capacity to care for their fellow Australians. The people of this country want to see real effort to improve the lives of Australians who need help.

Instead, we argue over grand gestures like treaties or the Voice that divide Australians and have no guarantee whatsoever of providing any improvement in the quality of life for those who need our help the most.

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