On Saturday, 4 February 2023, the NSW Bar, the Law Society of NSW, and the Judicial Commission of NSW, led by its Ngara Yura Committee, co-hosted a symposium titled “Exchanging Ideas: constitutional reform, nation building and treaty making process”. The aim of this symposium was to facilitate communication between the legal profession and First Nations people about these key issues.
The first paper, titled “The Voice - A Step Forward for Australian Nationhood”, was delivered by the Honourable Robert French AC, former Chief Justice of Australia. It explores:
- the history of the first peoples of our nation;
- the Constitution which, when enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament as s 9 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, explicitly excluded them from being counted as people of the Commonwealth;
- various subsequent changes to the Constitution, including the 1967 amendments;
- the rise of recognition;
- the Uluru Statement of the Heart;
- the Voice; and
- the current proposed draft amendment to the Constitution.
The former Chief Justice elegantly articulates why the Voice proposal is “a once in a lifetime opportunity for Australia to fill a gaping hole in our Constitution”. I encourage the profession to read this outstanding paper, which can be accessed here, and thank his Honour for making it available to our members.
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