Reconstituting Australia sits alongside the task of Reconciling Australia.
Unlike previous non-indigenous generations, especially those who gave us the 1901 White Australia Constitution, we can no longer imagine an Australia which excludes First Peoples and which fails to acknowledge both their prior occupation of this country and to recognise and affirm their ongoing rights.
We now know there is something very important missing from all those ‘modern’ forms of representation which fail to tell the whole truth about Australian life.
These incomplete forms of representation include the Australian Constitution; the Australian Parliament; the State and Territory Constitutions and the State and Territory parliaments.
1996 – BACK TO THE PAST
Instead to tackling these challenges, the Howard government attempted to go back to the past with an ethnocidal campaign premised on the complete demise of indigenous Ways of being.
Such a campaign does not seek to repair past damage. Rather, it seeks to institutionalise and ‘normalise’ the rotten ‘gains’ of Anglo-Australian colonisation.
With the abolition of ATSIC the need for Constitutionally protected form of indigenous representation is even greater than before.
The Howard government’s view of Australia is a simple-minded fantasy which we cannot afford to take seriously. As a ‘leader’ PM Howard is a long way behind the state of play in the wider community, with new generations puzzled by his inability to see the obvious.
The task of dissolving the present mental blockages which make up ‘modern Australia’ (1788 to the present) is the first stage of a two stage healing process. This stage is well and truly underway.
“Modern” Australia is dissolving as a result of the irresistible digestive juices of truth. Despite the efforts of those who seek to prop up the pervious image of Australian life – embodied by both the present Prime Minister (and his shadow?) – these matters cannot be stopped by wilful decree or by official acts of omission.
The emergence of new forms of life in Australia has a life of its own. “Modern” Australia has lost the battle for our creative imaginations. Like it or not, we are on the move.
We now have to imagine new and creative Ways of living which solve some of the known major defects of ‘modern times’.
The second stage is to reconstitute Australia as a new life arrangement, which (for example) includes:
1. redesigning the present ‘top-down’ command structure (and control trip) of the 1901 Australian constitution
2. putting all of life on the level by empowering all (indigenous and non-indigenous) local and regional communities to manage our own affairs.
3. ensuring a space for culturally appropriate forms of indigenous representation, which will allow for cultural partnership in all (local, state, Federal) matters of governance
4. negotiated settlements of unfinished business, by way of local and regional treaties (or similar), to provide a sound foundation for the future well-being of all Australian life
CONSTITUIONAL DEBATE – DON”T WAIT FOR LEADERSHIP
Reconstituting Australia, in order to make Australian life complete, is an important part of an ongoing Constitutional debate.
Those who benefit from the existing one-sided Constitutional arrangements of 1901 will continue to prevent these issues being debated at the ‘high’ official level.
The leaders of mainstream political parties will ensure that these fundamentally important foundational issues will not enjoy any hint of ‘legitimacy’. Power is used to make sure there is only oxygen for those who speak with the ‘right’ kind of voice.
But the voice which relies on a certain kind of English accent – without a hint of the true languages indigenous to Australia – is increasingly sounding hollow, empty, pretentious. It is this form of ‘respectability’ itself which is increasingly on the nose.
We will have to use our voices, and work hard (using the best of our creative talents) to make sure that these unfinished business issues are part of the coming Federal election in 2007.
People power is the magic healing ingredient required now to make Australia complete.
There is an easy first step:
Put Constitutional debate for a new Australia (to ensure adequate indigenous representation, at a minimum) on the Federal election agenda whenever you can.