Recognising indigenous people in Qld preamble 'divisive'!!!

Jessica Marszalek and David Barbeler | | February 23, 2010

John-Paul Langbroek
Qld Opposition Leader
Infers his Dutch / American background has same importance as the traditional owners

The Queensland government has failed to get bipartisan support for a preamble to the state's constitution recognising indigenous people as the state's first inhabitants.

The state opposition described the Constitution (Preamble) Amendment Bill 2009, expected to pass parliament this week, as superficial and divisive.

The preamble states, in part, it will honour: "The Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the first Australians, whose lands, winds and waters we all now share and pay tribute to, their unique values and ancient and enduring cultures which deepen and enrich the life of our community."

Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said it was wrong to elevate recognition of one ethnic group within the Queensland community to the exclusion of all others.

"It is a superficial nod in the direction of political correctness and it is designed to divide Queenslanders - and not unite us," he told state parliament.

"As a child of Dutch and American immigrants I have always had great pride in the fact that modern Australia is a free, liberal and tolerant society.

"Racism and racial preferencing have no place in our Federation."

Mr Langbroek said there was little or no public support for the adoption of a preamble and the government was only including it to appeal to the Labor Party's "latte left".

"We cannot believe that the government is wasting so much of the parliament's time with a bill like this one," he said.

Instead, it should be working to improve the living and education standards of indigenous people.

Premier Anna Bligh has previously said the preamble would "provide an enduring statement on behalf of the Queensland people that acknowledges where we have come from and our aspirations for tomorrow's Queensland".

During the debate today, north Queensland Labor MP Steve Wettenhall said Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders had suffered great discrimination.

"We can look back, I think, over the past 150 years and beyond since white settlement in Queensland and gain from the lessons of history some sense of optimism and confidence that over the next 150 years improvements will be made to the living standards and quality of life to indigenous people in this state," he told parliament.

"And that to me is what this preamble is all about."


Constitutional preamble opposed by Indigenous leaders and Opposition

Kerrin Binnie | | February 23, 2010

The Queensland Opposition says it will not support putting a preamble into the Constitution because it will divide Queenslanders.

Parliament has begun debating a Bill, introduced by the Premier last year, that will recognise Indigenous people as the first Queenslanders.

Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek says there needs to be a referendum.

"The Opposition opposes the enactment of this bill because it [the LNP] opposes the elevated recognition of one ethnic group - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - to the exclusion of all others," he said.

"It [the bill] is a superficial nod in the direction of political correctness and is designed to divide Queenslanders and not unite us."

There has also been criticism from Indigenous groups who protested outside Parliament today.

Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action spokesman Les Malezer says the proposed preamble is offensive.

"It's meant to be a symbolic gesture," he said.

"It's meant to be what after a 150 years of colonisation finally acknowledging that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were here first.

"But it goes much further than that - it doesn't stop at that - it goes on to say 'and we have no rights as a result of that' and that's what's offensive about it.

"It's in the actual text of the preamble and it is also in the explanatory note, and they've had legal people look at it and committees look at it for that very purpose.

"It's not about acknowledging our rights, it's actually about denying our rights and affirming that we have no rights and that's completely wrong."