For release: Friday 13 February 2015

Any future referendum to recognise Indigenous people in the Australian constitution should be kept as simple as possible to maximise the possibility of success, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

In its submission to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples lodged this week, ACL expressed its strong support for recognition but warned against complicating the process by creating rights open to judicial interpretation.

“The failure to recognise indigenous people in our nation’s founding document is a wrong that should be righted.

“While this alone won’t close the gap on indigenous disadvantage, it will be another positive step on the path to reconciliation and should be supported by all Australians,” Mr Shelton said.

ACL’s submission expressed concern that the joint select committee’s progress report seeks to go beyond recognition and seeks to prohibit discrimination which is already prohibited under existing statutes.

“The creation of rights open to interpretation by the courts is unlikely to gain support by a majority of people in a majority of states,” Mr Shelton said.

“The discussion about putting rights into the Constitution rightly belongs to the Bill of Rights debate – a debate which Australia has recently had and rejected.

“A simple question aimed at righting an historical wrong will, in my view, find widespread community support.”

Click to read submission