Transcripts

Transcript | ABC News 24 Afternoon 08-06-2021

Patricia Karvelas

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg will use a speech to the Sydney Institute tonight to try and map a pathway through the Coalition's internal differences on adopting the Uluru's statement from the heart. And this afternoon, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has backed calls to deliver constitutional recognition. Senator Andrew Bragg joins me now. Welcome to the programme.  You're giving this significant speech, you've written a book even on this, this is a passion project for you now as the kind of carrier of this message inside the governing party and the Liberal Party. What is  this map that you think we should embark on? What does it look like?

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, the first part is understanding that my party has a significant history in Indigenous affairs and understanding the good and the bad about that, using the good to build on in the future. The second part is recognising that there is a constitutional amendment that could be acceptable to constitutional conservatives, but also keep faith with all the Uluru Statement.

 

Patricia Karvelas

So when should constitutional recognition be put to the public, I know that I spoke with Noel Pearson, for instance, he's one of the key voices and he says it should happen pretty quickly after the next election, should just be put to the public. Do you agree?

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

The only game in town in terms of constitutional recognition is the is the Voice and is a concept of constant consultation, and that is something that could be drafted in many different ways. I think an obligation on the Commonwealth to consult indigenous people when it makes laws and policies should be delivered in the next term. I'm hopeful that we'll make a commitment to hold a referendum in the next term. Of course, you need to have bipartisan support. To achieve a successful referendum, and I'm hoping that we can get to that during the next parliament.

 

Patricia Karvelas

How are you going to get to convincing the naysayers in your own party? Because there's a lot of them. You know who they are. I know who they are. Some of them have been on this programme. Some of them are very, you know, not so vocal, but very much preparing to try and stymie this. How are you going to get them over the line?

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, I think the first part is setting out a liberal case, a conservative case for doing this. And I think already we are making some traction. As you know, people like Barnaby Joyce have had a position of hostility and then he changed his position quite significantly. So I think that we are in a better position than we were four years ago when Uluru was handed down, there is more support. People do understand that this is not about identity politics. It's not about third chambers, it's that giving people agency, it's about giving people a say over laws and policies, which I think is quite a conservative notion.

 

Patricia Karvelas

What do you say to some of your colleagues who say and have told me that that we shouldn't give a special status to any race, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders shouldn't be given any extra rights, so to speak, although I don't know "rights" in this country?

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

We have 18 different laws on the federal statute books, which are made for indigenous people. We have no system to engage those people on those special laws. That is the crux of the argument. We've already crossed the Rubicon. We've had special laws we've had policies of discrimination since the settlement of Australia. So this is about trying to improve that system that we already have. I mean, even One Nation would accept the need for these laws to continue. Even One Nation would accept the need for you to have some sort of native title and land rights system.

 

Patricia Karvelas

Let's talk about the how you get there, because your own government is working towards this co-design process for how the voice is constructed. There's talk that it might be legislated first. But as you know, the Uluru, the people who are behind the Uluru statement say, no, they don't want legislation first. They want constitutional reform, and then you create the body. What do you say?

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, I think the best position for us to take here is to make a commitment to hold a referendum in the next parliament and then to legislate after a successful referendum. I mean, that would be your starting point. But I think that depends on whether or not you can get the support. Ultimately, this will come down to whether or not the executive government is prepared to make a judgement in support of doing so. At the moment, I'm focused on trying to get as much support for that as possible.

 

Patricia Karvelas

So given you're trying to do that, what do you make of Gladys Berejiklian's statement? Does that help you in that case? She's obviously a very prominent liberal voice in the country,  leader of the biggest state.

 

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, I think the Premier of my state has made a very strong statement in relation to the statement, which is very welcome. Equally, I mean, Steven Marshall in South Australia is putting in place his own system of a Voice in the South Australian system. I think all these innovations are very welcome and they are consistent with the Liberal leadership in this space over a long period of time. So I think we're in a much better position than we were four years ago when this statement was released. As we discussed before, I think that was mishandled and we're building back from what was a pretty low base. So I'm I'm an optimist and we've just got to do do the work. A lot of this is running people through the examples of how this could improve people's lives on the ground. And I think I think it would. So obviously, I'm encouraging my colleagues to go out into communities to meet indigenous people and to try and get their views firsthand.

 

Patricia Karvelas

Senator Andrew Bragg, thanks for joining me.

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April 22, 2021
By 
Senator Andrew Bragg