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#AceBreakingNews – SA becomes first Australian jurisdiction to create First Nations Voice to Parliament as historic bill passes
A special Sunday sitting of SA Parliament passed the bill creating the Voice, which has been assented to by the governor in a ceremonial meeting of the state’s executive council.
Addressing the Lower House, Premier Peter Malinauskas described the legislation as “momentous” for the state’s Indigenous people.
“It has been a long time coming but First Nations voices will now be heard in the state of South Australia,” he said.
Representatives for the South Australian Voice will be elected in coming months, with the mechanism expected to be running before the end of the year.
Establishing a state-based Voice comes ahead of the referendum to enshrine a federal body in the constitution.
Mr Malinauskas acknowledged the efforts of “so many to get to this point”, including Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher and Dale Agius, the state’s First Nations commissioner.
“I acknowledge and indeed completely respect the fact that this legislation hasn’t enjoyed unanimous support within this place,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“But the debate that has got us to the point we are today has been extraordinarily civil, considered and courteous.”
Mr Malinauskas said he hoped the Voice could be something all MPs, for generations to come, could support and utilise.Denise Agius watched the Voice to Parliament bill pass during a special sitting on Sunday.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)none
“We will embrace the opportunity the Voice gives us to infuse our parliament, our democracy, with the knowledge and experience of our First Nations, particularly on matters that pertain to their future, which is indivisible from our own,” he said.
While the ACT and Victoria both have elected First Nations bodies that can make recommendations to government agencies, they have different functions to what the South Australian Voice to Parliament will have.Kyam Maher and Peter Malinauskas outside Parliament House.(ABC News)none
Mr Malinauskas said the nation would look to South Australia’s example on “this important change” ahead of a referendum on creating a federal Voice to Parliament.
“A change that ensures our democracy is yet another step closer to achieving the eternal Australian aspiration of a fair go for all, including those who have lived here the longest, the traditional owners of the land.
“For from today, in this state, their voices will be heard.”
SA’s Attorney-General Kyam Maher said the state led the nation by creating a Voice that was “empowered to speak to the parliament, to speak to the ministers, to speak to the government departments”.
“To speak directly to the decision-makers who have so often struggled to make meaningful change,” he said.
“A voice that will help decision-makers make enduring, positive change for the future.
“Friends, today isn’t the end of a journey, it’s a beginning.”Jamie and Lois Agius watched the legislation pass from outside Parliament House.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)none
Mr Maher said South Australia today had “lit a beacon of hope for the rest of the nation”.
“The referendum that will be held later this year will seek to elevate the voice of Aboriginal people right across the country,” he said.
“… It’s not everyday that we get to do something that has the potential to influence the course of a nation’s history, but friends, we do that today.”
Opposition Leader David Speirs said he hoped the Voice succeeded, despite his party not voting for the laws because it believe the model put forward had “flaws.”
“I’ve spoken to many, many Aboriginal people who are concerned about today and the model that is being passed,” he said.
“They don’t believe that it will lead to practical outcomes.”
Kaurna elder Tim Agius said he supported the “concept” but he does not support the legislation.
He said there had not been “true engagement” with First Nations people in the design and draft of the bill.
“It is really not a voice that we own. It’s a state government voice, it’s not our voice,” he said.
“And I think a lot of people, including a lot of non-Aboriginal people, who have spoken to me about it and [are] quite surprised about my view.”
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