A fuller declaration of Australia’s nationhood
The Referendum Council called for the adoption of a symbolic statement of recognition that does not form part of the Constitution but which unifies all Australians.
Upholding the Constitution
The need for a symbolic statement does not justify creating uncertainty in relation to the interpretation of the Constitution.
The place of symbolism
A symbolic statement about modern Australia’s Indigenous heritage, British institutions and multicultural achievement would help unify all Australians as part of the process of Indigenous recognition.
What would a declaration say?
There are at least eight themes which a declaration of recognition might be expected to address.
Who would draft a declaration?
When drafting the declaration, there should be a process, such as a drafting competition, that encourages a high level of participation from all sections of Australian society, so that the declaration embodies the will of the Australian people.
How would a declaration be adopted?
The declaration of recognition should not be adopted through ordinary legislation, but through a process that evinces participation of the Australian people and/or all the Australian legislatures.
The adoption of a declaration of recognition should be the capstone that provides symbolic recognition of modern Australia after implementing substantive reforms to recognise Indigenous peoples.
A declaration could be adopted either by amending the Australia Acts or by proclamation in response to a petition to Parliament.
Amending the Australia Acts
Commonwealth and State parliaments may legislate in concert to amend the Australia Acts by inserting a new section 18 which recites the declaration of recognition.
Petitioning for a Declaration of Recognition Act
The Commonwealth Parliament may legislate to authorise the Governor-General to issue a Proclamation adopting the declaration of recognition in response to a petition by the Australian people.